Ricochet News

Two suspects arrested for Fernkloof Nature Reserve attacks

Dec 21, 2017
Two suspects arrested for Fernkloof Nature Reserve attacks

Two suspects have been arrested after various incidents of criminal activity were reported on cliff paths and other tourism hot-spots in the Fernkloof Nature Reserve area over the past two months in which the victims would be attacked and robbed, mostly at knife point.

"These incidents have increased dramatically since the beginning of the December holidays and visitors and residents alike have been warned to be vigilant," said Riana Steenekamp, Media Liaison & Social Media Officer, Management Services at the Overstrand Municipality.

She said that on Tuesday, the Municipality was informed of an attack in Fernkloof Nature Reserve where a man was accosted by criminals while hiking in the nature reserve.

"The attack happened near the jeep track, on the Aasvoëlkop (orange) contour path. The hiker was robbed of his cell phone.

"A couple of other hikers in the vicinity, who heard shots fired, managed to get away - unharmed and with all their belongings intact - to report the incident," added Steenekamp.

Two men were arrested by Special Task Unit members, Fronwin Marais and Phillip de Gruchy, who caught the robbers hours after the incident took place. Law Enforcement Officer Ryan Steward assisted them.

“We were very impressed and grateful to all the officers who responded to the attack,” said Assistant Chief: Law Enforcement Johan du Toit. He confirmed that cash, a firearm and other goods have been confiscated.

Cases have been opened with the police and investigations are continuing.

According to Municipal Manager, Coenie Groenewald, the Overstrand Municipality is committed to providing an efficient protection and security service during the holiday season.

In addition, the Fernkloof Rangers are available to accompany hikers in Fernkloof Nature Reserve on a complimentary basis. 

Hikers can report to the visitor centre at Fernkloof where the guides are based. Alternatively send an email to tourism@overstrand.gov.za to book a ranger.

Groenewald emphasised that any safety measures can only succeed if there is a good working relationship between the Municipality and other role players such as the Police, Hermanus Public Protection (HPP), the National Sea Rescue Institute, Marine and Coastal Management, Neighbourhood Watches and security companies.

Safety Plans

• Municipal law enforcement and traffic officials will be extra visible and vigilant for the duration of the holiday season

• Visible patrolling will be sustained on a 24/7 basis

• Additional EPWP seasonal workers - uniformed and fully equipped - have been deployed since 15 December to deal with security matters on the cliff paths and other tourism spots, where a large number of visitors had been robbed and attacked by criminals in the past months

• Law enforcement officers will be present at identified activity venues

• Random road blocks will take place

• Interaction with the public and the promotion of fire safety awareness

• Fire season has started and the threat of destructive veld fires increases

• On-going policing of other issues such as speeding, drunken driving and vehicles which are not roadworthy