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21 October 2011 at 09:31 - Posted by Anonymous

Table Mountain closed at night


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Tourists walk along Signal Hill Drive. This section of the road, along with most of Tafelberg Road, is being blocked between 10pm and 5am preventing motorists from accessing Table Mountain and Signal Hill during those times.	Picture: MICHAEL WALKER

The road along Table Mountain and another leading to Signal Hill have been closed to vehicles between 10pm and 5am in an attempt to prevent more crimes from occurring around these scenic routes.

Only accredited tour operators and people who have obtained a night permit will be allowed to access the mountain in vehicles during these hours.

On Tuesday Henry du Plessis, the city’s director of roads and storm water, said the city had decided to close the roads.

Tafelberg Road, at the start just after the Kloof Nek parking area and a point along Signal Hill Drive, after the main route up Lion’s Head, would be physically blocked between 10pm and 5am.

“It’s a municipal road so they (SANParks) cannot close it. The city closed the roads because of the safety issue,” Du Plessis said.

SANParks regional spokeswoman Merle Collins said the road closures had been a joint decision between the SAPS and Table Mountain National Park. She said it was “in the interest of public safety”.

“Accredited tour operators and tour guides will be allowed in, anybody else must arrange for a permit for night-time activities,” she said.

This meant no members of the public in vehicles would be able to get to Signal Hill and Table Mountain at night.

People would be able to park in the Kloof Nek parking area and Collins said from there they would be allowed to walk along the sections of road barred to vehicles. They could then access the mountain.

Collins said the extreme measure had been taken in the past, especially during the festive season. This time the decision was not announced publicly.

Instead a neighbourhood watch alerted its members via e-mail and residents in turn then alerted the Cape Times.

An update sent out by the Tamboerskloof Neighbourhood Watch said: “While this is intended as ‘a crime prevention measure’, it is yet another example of how crime affects everyone. Closing such an iconic site with such magnificent views should be considered a tragedy and a wake-up call to all to help put a stop to crime.”

Henry Giddy, chairman of the city centre’s Community Police Forum, said the mountain had been closed to vehicles at night for a week, due to “the prevalence of attacks again”.

Giddy said in one of the most recent incidents a couple parked in Tafelberg Road last week were attacked by men who had been concealed by a bush.

“We’ve had a few incidents before that... It’s such a difficult area to police because it’s so porous. This (night closure) will maybe deter people from using the mountain at night,” he said.

Giddy said the Signal Hill parking area, which would be blocked off at night, was a hot spot in terms of crime and more law enforcement officers would be stationed along the road near Lion’s Head.

He said motorists on the mountain during the prohibited hours would be fined about R1 500, but Collins on Tuesday denied this. Giddy said a decision on how long the closure would last would be made at a later stage.

Marc Truss, chairman of the Table Mountain Forum, said during the summer months more people tended to use the mountain and preventing vehicles from accessing certain areas at night would perhaps mean fewer people on the mountain would be vulnerable to crime.

The closure would not affect the operations of the cable car with the last trips down at 7pm this month and 7.30pm next month.

In February, then community safety MEC Albert Fritz set up the Table Mountain Forum, specifically to tackle mountain crimes.

Since then the forum has introduced a number of measures to try to curb crimes.

Anyone wanting to go on the mountain in a vehicle between 10pm and 5am may contact Table Mountain’s Kloof Nek visitor safety office on 021 422 1601. - Cape Times

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