Berg Alert 2017

24 Jan 2017 11:11 - 24 Jan 2017 11:13 #70741 by Viking
This is the place for all updates, incidents and observations relating to security issues in the Drakensberg in 2017.

The kind of thing which should be reported here:
* new incidents of theft, mugging or any kind of verbal or physical intimidation (whether it is experienced first-hand, seen in the media, or heard through the grape vine)
* new observations of the activities of shepherds, smugglers and other parties, especially as it concerns the safety of hikers and climbers.
* any other snippet of information or comment about the current state of affairs relating to security.

The purpose of this thread is to maintain a true picture of what is happening in the Berg currently, to keep a concerned Berg community informed, and to create a healthy awareness of security issues which will help others avoid problems. It is not the intention to create a media hype or undue negative publicity for the Berg, nor to harm tourism in the area, and definitely not to create prejudice against the Basotho and other locals living there.

Historical threads:
* Berg Alert 2010
* Berg Alert 2011
* Berg Alert 2012
* Berg Alert 2013
* Berg Alert 2014
* Berg Alert 2015
* Berg Alert 2016

General Security Precautions

Current areas of concern
Amphitheatre: The odd incident of bags and tents being raided when camping in the main valley around the Tugela river, see this thread for suggestions on other camping areas.
There was a nasty incident in the Khubedu Valley where it passes Icidi pass in 2016 which resulted in the this discussion.

Rhino Peak / Mashai Pass: There have been a few reports of intimidation and rock throwing by shepherds.

Hodgesons / Masubasuba Pass / Sani: There was a mugging in 2015 on the pass, and apparently various cases of tourists being pestered around the top of Sani Pass. See Berg Alert 2015 for more details.

“Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting, So… get on your way!”
Last Edit: 24 Jan 2017 11:13 by Viking.
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20 Feb 2017 11:55 #70934 by WarrenM
We were at Injisuthi this last weekend, something happened worth noting and warning about.

On our way out from the camp on Saturday, there is a stretch, after the KZN Wildlife entrance to that cattle gate, there is a lot of cattle and herdsman in that sections.

We were passing through some cattle that the herdsman had been moving out of our way, the road is also narrow so you tend to drive carefully and slowly. The herdsman naturally as they do asking for something, but we kept going very slowly through the cattle with them in front of us and next to us all while waving at the guys, when they opened the doors on either side of our car!

We held the door closed on the left and luckily the door on the right only half opened as they didn't pull hard enough to open it, I chose to put foot past the remaining cattle at that point and thee guys didn't follow and nothing taken or harm done on either side.

In hindsight locking the doors as we left the camps would have helped and naturally coming from JHB it should be habit, but we just did not expect that.

Not sure if this is a regular thing or not - but guys please take care on the road in and out of Injisuthi.
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21 Feb 2017 06:36 - 21 Feb 2017 06:39 #70941 by Serious tribe
What sort of ages would you say these guys were?

@rhino&hedgehog any numbers, possible ages and day of incident, i.e. during the week, weekend?
Last Edit: 21 Feb 2017 06:39 by Serious tribe.

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21 Feb 2017 08:26 #70942 by daveway
Hi All,

Several weeks ago I went hiking in the Monks Cowl area. I've deliberately held off on posting this as to keep the dates vague in an effort to protect people who gave us information - simply because I'm not sure how much of this information is supposed to be in the public domain. I'm also keeping some details vague to try protect KZN wildlife/SANDF operations.

Background to the hike: we left Joburg after work on Friday afternoon, camped at Monks Cowl campsite on Friday night, hiked up to Keith's Bush Camp on Saturday (using the GPS track available on this site, which was very useful!), and camped at Keith's bush camp on Saturday night. On Sunday we hiked back to Monks Cowl Campsite and drove back to Joburg on Sunday afternoon. We were in a group of about 12 people.

The plan was to go up Grays Pass on either Saturday afternoon or Sunday morning, depending on what time we got there on Saturday, but at Monks Cowl reception we were told that it was "closed for path maintenance", and that we shouldn't go up Gray's Pass. The path is not undergoing any maintenance - they're just advising against going up there, for reasons which will become obvious.

Along the path to Keiths Bush Camp, particularly after passing Blind Man's Corner, there are numerous places where we found pieces of "Basotho blanket" material caught on branches etc., and we also came across a bag which had obviously split - this track is clearly an active smuggling route.

When we arrived at Keiths Bush Camp, there were a number of rangers setting up camp. All were armed. Chatting to them, they said that there had recently been an incident whereby hikers, hiking up Grays Pass, had been caught in the crossfire between drug smugglers and the Lesotho army. The hikers had made it back unscathed, but it would appear that there were other fatalities. This incident happened before you get to the top of the pass, well within South Africa.

If anybody is thinking of hiking there, I'll be happy to divulge more info, but not in a public post.
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21 Feb 2017 08:33 #70943 by WarrenM
Ok sorry should have elaborated to start.

- section of road, between the cattle grid and the park entrance to Injisuthi.
- 3 youngsters one probably 9 the other two around 11, it is to be noted that we had already gone through about 1 km back another herd of cattle with much older herdsman, say 40+ and there was a teenager (17ish) with them and there was no issue - we passed through 3 herds of cattle in a similar manner with them all moving in the direction away from the Injisuthi camp but using the road to travel on, they opened our doors while we were heading through the last herd, my assumption is they were all the same herd just split out as they were not that far apart.
- date 18 Feb 2017 time approx. 14H30 (Saturday afternoon).
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21 Feb 2017 10:50 #70945 by Richard Hunt
Guys.....please be on ALERT while driving on any road to the Drakensberg. Criminal activity is increasing everywhere!! A couple have just been brutally murdered on the Lotheni road and their bodies thrown in the Inzinga River.
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21 Feb 2017 17:05 #70957 by Papa Dragon
So sad the way this beautiful country of ours is going..

I wonder what the facts are behind the Gray's shooting?
Did the soldiers fire on unarmed smugglers?
Did the smugglers fire first, and soldiers fired back, and chased them down the pass?

i suppose we'll never know...
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21 Feb 2017 21:28 #70962 by daveway

Papa Dragon wrote: So sad the way this beautiful country of ours is going..

I wonder what the facts are behind the Gray's shooting?
Did the soldiers fire on unarmed smugglers?
Did the smugglers fire first, and soldiers fired back, and chased them down the pass?

i suppose we'll never know...


Wish I knew... The Lesotho army shouldn't have been on our side of the border anyway. Although, as has been posted elsewhere in this forum, it doesn't seem that the Lesotho army actually knows where the border is...

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22 Feb 2017 00:26 #70963 by intrepid
@WarrenM: if you are prepared to put a statement together in an email and send it to me, I will forward it to relevant people at EKZNW. The Injisuthi road does have a history and if I'm not mistaken some effort has been made in the past to liaise with the local community to address the problem.

I think it is extremely important that each and every security related incident in the Berg, no matter how minor, is reported to the relevant authorities and that an accurate record is kept of these. Without this we don't know where we are exactly, and we will be at the mercy of hearsay without knowing where, what and when. The statistics are also very important in securing any sort of resources to address the issues. I appeal to all reading this to always firstly report things to the EKZNW Conservation Manager (Officer in charge) of the relevant area you are in. Ask at the reception to speak to them directly. Please also report it here (of course, sensitive details may be omitted), and feel free to forward it to me via email for follow up too: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Take nothing but litter, leave nothing but a cleaner Drakensberg.

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22 Feb 2017 08:20 #70967 by WarrenM
Will do intrepid

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