big knives out high on a narrow path

twilight on Table Mountain

26 January


A man fell to his death on Table Mountain recently. Beyond the shock ending lies a trail of probably more than the average litany of one life's tragic events, which had impelled him and a mate up there with big knives, to a point on a remote narrow path with a twelve metre drop. From that spot he fell clutching a stolen cell phone that pinged his fixed location throughout the night, and crumpled there he’d been found and photographed the next morning once wind had dropped sufficiently for a drone to go up.

One can’t identify him. He is nameless. As is his accomplice who soon after the incident lit off down the path. We don’t know much of the hiker-victims, just that he became their victim, their positions having been briefly reversed, literally after having been pepper-sprayed he stepped back and fell.

The size of the attacked party breaks the mold and advice the Park puts out about safety in numbers. In this case there were apparently about ten hikers. Another anomaly was that the attack happened higher than where mountain crime usually happens; the two attackers don’t seem to have had a third hidden accomplice; and crucially, one of the hiking victims resisted, for reasons and exact circumstance that is not mine to question. However, I do recall a mountain security specialist saying that by far the larger part of violence erupting in such an encounter is triggered by physical resistance to the attack.

And it's never guaranteed that the bad guy comes off badly.

There'll be more crime on the mountain, unfortunately. Attackers are said to monitor social media to plan their assaults. Having read about one of their kind dying like that, I hope that they won’t be more jumpy with their knives out. Or trigger happy ...

Especially having read on social media that plain-clothed police are patrolling, which suggests a level of crime-prevention sophistication that mountain users want.

'Users' is a term that applies broadly. Table Mountain National Park is the Cape's key attraction. Anyone in the tourism economy should be concerned.

Or would the mountain be better off as a no-go area, a place to be gazed from afar.