From a national tourism point of view, the Table Mountain National Park in Cape Town is one of the most important draw cards for foreign tourists visiting South Africa.
Governments like those of the UK, Canada and Australia, as well as popular travel websites like Lonely Planet, have singled out violent crime on Table Mountain in official travel warnings. This is therefore an issue of national importance to our tourism economy.
On 28 January a hiker was stabbed to death in the mountain above Kalk Bay.
On 17 February a woman was hit over the head with a bottle and robbed on Noordhoek beach.
On 13 January a group of 9 hikers was attacked and four of them, including two tourists from the UK, were brutally stabbed in the mountain above Kalk Bay.
Over the last two months four international tourists have been stabbed on Noordhoek beach, including an elderly couple (aged 63 and 68) from Austria who was lucky to be alive after being hospitalised, where they received emergency operations.
In 2016 Franziska Blochliger (16 years old) were brutally raped and murdered in Tokai Forest. In 2014 a hiker was killed on the Kalk Bay trail. In 2004 we found a mutilated body in the Noordhoek wetlands.
The Kruger National Park has 400 armed rangers who are trained as trackers, together with tracker dogs, to protect rhinos and elephants. The number of rhinos killed every year is so overwhelming that to the public it has become just a number. If we can reduce this number we are making progress.
However, when just one international tourist is stabbed on Table Mountain, it gets into the news, doing significant damage to our national tourism economy. Each additional stabbing incident has an accumulative effect, resulting in long-term damage to tourism. Only a near 100% success rate will prevent further damage and restore public trust in the safety of Table Mountain National Park.
From 2000 to 2004 we had numerous attacks on Noordhoek beach, sometimes two to four attacks in a week. Only by training up a team of trackers were we able to bring the crime under control. From 2004 to 2007 we had not one single attack on Noordhoek beach.
In 2007 the Table Mountain National Park publicly stated (Cape Times, 22/8/2007) that they will start training trackers to make the park safe. Over the last ten years we could have trained up a strong team of trackers.
But instead the Noordhoek tracker team was disbanded. In spite of the fact that the Table Mountain National Park has a full-time Master Tracker, James Minye, not a single tracker has been trained over the last 10 years.
We need a highly specialised Tracker Intelligence Unit with at least 330 armed scouts (or more) trained as trackers, with tracker dogs, using specialised tracking technology, to protect visitors in the Table Mountain National Park.
Louis Liebenberg, 20 February, 2018