Berg Alert 2015

29 Apr 2015 22:19 #63570 by chriskeit
Replied by chriskeit on topic Berg Alert 2015
With regards to the recent mugging report this weekend, this was actually myself and my mate who were attacked. We are obviously very thankful to have come out of the ordeal unscathed, although disheartened about the whole situation.

The incident happened as mentioned on Sunday (26th April 2015) afternoon at 16:00 at the base of Masubasuba pass. The two male Basotho’s, aged around 30-40 years, had passed us at the very base of the pass as we were looking for the non-existent path down to Gorge Cave. In hindsight I believe that they were trailing us for some time or waited for us to pass them while hiding. While climbing up from Gxalingenwa during the afternoon we did notice 2 distant figures on top of the ridge (where there is not path), but thought nothing of it.

After these locals had passed us and we were on our way down the valley (around 50-100m), we were suddenly stampeded and chased with rocks being thrown at us. Startled and not knowing what was happening we took off running down the hill, and after we realised that these guys had the upper hand coming from higher ground, rocks flying past us we stopped and pleaded mercy. Even when lying on the ground, when I looked up towards the one local he still threw another rock at me!

With one local holding us hostage on the ground, the other proceeded to take out the shoe laces of my mates shoes and tie our hands.

They took off our packs and ripped everything out; mostly searching for money, clothes, boots, cellphones, food, knives, batteries as mentioned (not knowing what my Garmin was they took the batteries out but still pocked the device). They went through everything two or three times, even my map and first aid kit. They were not interested in our sleeping bags, backpacks, tent / groundsheet, or my Crocs thankfully (they must have been too ugly to steal :laugh: )

After sifting through our goods and deciding what they wanted, they had stashed everything in plastic bags which we had in our packs. They used one of our knives to cut us free, and they missioned back up the pass leaving us to gather the rest of our belongings together just as it was getting dark.

My suggestions from this experience…
1. If attacked and you don’t have the upper hand to do anything, lie on the ground, face down, covering your head from rocks.
2. Be submissive as these guys were really very aggressive especially before we were tied up.
3. It might sound strange, but carry some cash with you. They were searching us hard for money (even our socks and jocks) and threatening when my mate didn’t have any cash with him. They didn’t quite understand that he had left his money back at the vehicle.
4. With regards to the path from Gxalingenwa and “the hub”, this junction is difficult to find which is why we carried on to the Pass where the incident happened. Apparently there is a cairn to mark the turn but with no trail (make sure you take this trail down to Gorge and Pholela.)

... Thanks to Mike and they guys at Pholela for the supplies on Monday!

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
30 Apr 2015 03:52 - 30 Apr 2015 04:40 #63571 by Serious tribe
Replied by Serious tribe on topic Berg Alert 2015
Hi Chris

I am really sorry that your first post had to be an incident like this. :thumbsdown: Thanx for putting the detail up here. This certainly seems to be one of the worst confrontations that i have heard of for quite a long while.

Glad that you guys weren't hurt in the incident. (I am Mike's friend who was interested in getting info about this incident as I am hiking in the area in a few weeks time).

Likely you had your head down most of the time, however were there any distinguishing features about them, perhaps faces or clothing that you can remember?

Did they speak sesotho, zulu or english?

Dillon's potentially near experience in the same area might have been the same two guys. Perhaps we can get some indenticate from the two episodes.

Did the Cobham conservator mention anything about following this with the police, did you report this to the police?

Sadly, this is going to create some suspicion again.

Thanks
Karl
Last edit: 30 Apr 2015 04:40 by Serious tribe.
The following user(s) said Thank You: Captain, chriskeit

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
30 Apr 2015 06:38 #63573 by Richard Hunt
Replied by Richard Hunt on topic Berg Alert 2015
Its a pity that crime like this is in our beautiful mountains. This is not just petty theft but full out aggression. This mugging is a reflection on the state of our country and will have a big impact on how we hike in the future!!! Some of us carry 50k worth of camera equipment while hiking!!!!! Here where I live in the KZN Midlands crime has got totally out of hand to such a state that many of us are armed now.....is this the way we must now hike...ARMED and its extra unnecessary weight we have to carry. Larger hiking groups might solve the problem, but its not always possible.
The following user(s) said Thank You: Serious tribe

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
30 Apr 2015 07:38 #63574 by chriskeit
Replied by chriskeit on topic Berg Alert 2015
Thanks Karl

Yes it is a pity that my first post had to be one of a negative matter, but hopefully it will be of some help to others like yourself in the future.

From what I can remember, these guys were definitely local Basotho’s speaking only Sesotho and a very small amount of english. We were battling to communicate with these guys.

They were dressed as the locals usually are with a blanket over shoulders, and pretty tatty clothes in general. The one guy was wearing a royal blue shirt (that's about all I can remember of him). The second guy, had a tatty, light brown jacket on under his blanket, and also a square shaped child's pack on his back (reddish in colour). They were measuring up their feet against our shoes, so he may also be wearing a brand new set of WP hiking boots!

My mate reported it to our local Police back at home, who were as expected, pretty uninterested to say the least.

The manager was called down to the office back at the Cobham site, who said that he would try catch these guys themselves by means of "hiking as a tourist". He did also say that they have never had an incident like this before :dry:

Your advice? I was going to call the Sani border post and report the incident with them, do you think it will be much good? I mean everyone already knows that this is a drug smuggling route already, and nothing has been done about that for yonks.

Regards Chris

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
30 Apr 2015 07:39 - 30 Apr 2015 07:48 #63575 by Serious tribe
Replied by Serious tribe on topic Berg Alert 2015
@Richard

I hear your pain. I only hike when i come back to sa (even when living in sa, i only hiked the berg) and the photography is very important to me. Carrying expensive gear is sadly just the way it is with digital.

This is a threat to my means of earning part of my income, and also to a way of life that i love.

What about the army, what are they doing with their time. Surely they can start patrolling the border area and earn their keep.

@Chris

Yes, definitely report it, and give them the description that you gave here and any other info that you can glean from a chat with your mate. If you have images of the gear that was stolen, you could give this to them as well.

You could even get hold of the newspaper in PMB or the local Underberg newspapers.

As far as the dagga smugglers, they generally don't bother hikers as they don't want the attention. This could potentially bring a lot of attention.
Last edit: 30 Apr 2015 07:48 by Serious tribe.

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
30 Apr 2015 08:08 #63576 by Viking
Replied by Viking on topic Berg Alert 2015
Chris my boy, sorry to hear that man. Will have to chat about it next time you make an appearance at the crags!

“Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting, So… get on your way!”

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
30 Apr 2015 08:08 #63577 by ghaznavid
Replied by ghaznavid on topic Berg Alert 2015

Here where I live in the KZN Midlands crime has got totally out of hand to such a state that many of us are armed now.....is this the way we must now hike...ARMED and its extra unnecessary weight we have to carry.


I strongly disagree for 2 reasons:
1) If they threaten you and you show aggression, they are more likely to want to return the favour when they get the upper hand. Even if you chase them away, they could follow you to your camp and attack you during the night.
2) They are likely to want weapons, if you have weapons you give them more reason to attack you.

Anyway - even if someone threatens your life, you still don't have a legal right to kill them, or even shoot at them (aside from paintball or BB guns). Remember that shooting at someone with intention to kill (even if you miss) is attempted murder and is a serious offense. Also you never know when that noise in the night is actually some other hikers, many studies have shown that having a gun increases your risk of death due to violent crime.
The following user(s) said Thank You: Drakensbergie, supertramp

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
30 Apr 2015 08:54 - 30 Apr 2015 08:54 #63578 by firephish
Replied by firephish on topic Berg Alert 2015
shocking incident. My understanding is that these kind of things have been resolved from the lesotho side in the past, either by lesotho police or local chief ... logistics of contacting lesotho police or local chief are tricky obviously.

I would agree that hiking armed is probably a bad idea.
Last edit: 30 Apr 2015 08:54 by firephish.

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
30 Apr 2015 09:29 #63579 by Serious tribe
Replied by Serious tribe on topic Berg Alert 2015
When my wife and hike together I carry pepper spray with me.

While I am not violent person, i don't intent for me or my wife to become a victim.

Anyone have a connection to the Lesotho police?

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
30 Apr 2015 10:39 #63580 by Viking
Replied by Viking on topic Berg Alert 2015
I agree with Karl.

Given the chance and unless I am at a huge disadvantage due to weapons, surprise, the number of assailants or a combination of these as happened with Chris, I won't roll over.

I believe that giving up your possessions too easily only encourages this behaviour. A good beating would make them think twice.

“Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting, So… get on your way!”
The following user(s) said Thank You: draconia, Spykid

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
Powered by Kunena Forum