SANParks launches safety drive

Working on Fire and Table Mountain National Park staff ran a safety-awareness desk at Newlands Forest.

SA National Parks (SANparks) has launched a safety campaign ahead of the festive season for visitors to Table Mountain National Park.

Supported by other agencies, including Working on Fire, Law Enforcement and various community groups, SANParks staff ran information desks at Newlands Forest, Lion’s Head and Platteklip Gorge on Friday and Saturday November 18 and 19.

Mathabatha Mayjila, a park ranger, had the following advice on how to avoid falling prey to crime while enjoying the outdoors:

• Refrain from wearing expensive jewellery and try not to flash your cellphone when taking pictures.

• When you park your car, make sure your windows are closed and that no valuables are in sight.

• It is safer to hike in groups.

• Before embarking on a hike, familiarise yourself with all the signage and emergency numbers at the start of a trail.

• Let someone know where you are going, so that they can call for help if they don’t hear from you.

Ms Mayjila said rangers could not be everywhere so they relied on support from Law Enforcement, Metro Police and neighbourhood watches.

Visitors to the park should refrain from playing loud music as it impacted on others’ enjoyment, she said, adding that anyone who picked flowers in the park without a valid permit could be fined R1500 or more.

Working on Fire community awareness officer Rayganah Rhoda the public should be vigilant when making fires, and matches should be kept away from children.

“Always extinguish fires and safely dispose of hot ash coal and cigarettes, and burn rubbish on cool windy still days, provided you have a burning permit,” she said.

Founding member of Take Back our Mountains Taahir Osman said hikers should ensure they had a good hike leader who knew the route and they should let someone know where they were going.

The Deer Park, the Pipe Track, Lion’s Head and Signal Hill were vulnerable to potential muggings between 4pm and 7pm, he said.

“We caution hikers either to avoid that area or go with large groups.”

The park’s emergency number is 086 110 6417, and Wilderness Search and Rescue can be reached at 021 937 0300 or dial 112.

Safety pamphlets were available for visitors who needed more information on mountain safety.