Crime has been a continuing and increasing problem in Table Mountain National Park since 2004 when incidents started to peak, and concerns about making the Park safe for the public were raised. Concern was expressed by the Mountain Club of South Africa in 2007 when it noted the rise in incidents, and expressed concern that SANParks had failed to be honest about the increasing number of incidents, and areas where incidents occurred.
The buffer zone areas of Table Mountain National Park have proved to be increasingly unsafe over the last eight years, with three murders, multiple stabbings and rapes, and many muggings occurring. With only 52 rangers (some with dogs) to patrol the 221 sq km Park, it is clear that SANParks are unable – or unwilling – to adequately police the Park. Focus tends to be placed on only some of the known hotspots, yet equally that focus appears to be significant in summer i.e. the tourist months, and drops off over the winter months. The Mountain Club of South Africa has also expressed concerns about incidents that occur higher up the mountain.
The presence of vagrants and communities living within the Park, whom SANParks often fail to manage, does not help; nor does the failure to maintain vigilance for drug and alcohol usage in obvious places. A recent patrol through Lower Tokai, by way of example, revealed signs of human habitation, drug and alcohol use. Walkers regularly report suspicious sightings.
SANParks’ response to crime does not appear to be based on risk assessment and would seem to be reactive rather than proactive.
For a Park with a significant revenue stream, it is incomprehensible that SANParks should appear to be unable to provide better safety mechanisms.