Berg Alert 2019

15 Jan 2019 19:56 - 15 Jan 2019 20:00 #74545 by intrepid
Replied by intrepid on topic Berg Alert 2019
I got a response from Stephen Richert right away when I notified them of the incident last week. Unfortunately there was an issue with my VE email in that I wasn't getting his replies. This is his response:



Dear Chris

Thank you for raising this matter with us. We view them in a serious light and are busy addressing them through various means, including a bilateral Security Working Group. I have personally tried to get our Defence Forces to engage with them on this matter, to no avail.

In terms of incident reporting to the South African Police Service, for incidents in the Royal Natal area they can report them to the Bergville charge office on 036 4481095. Unfortunately there is no specific person that they can report to. If they have the ability to open a case of harassment and possibly illegal pointing of a firearm, then that would be the best option as it will require investigation of the case which might lead to a more favourable outcome. If not, they can ask to make an entry into the OB register and ensure that they obtain an OB number. I would also request that I am notified of all incidents and case/OB numbers. I also suggest that incidents are reported via email to the head of the Defence Force in charge of securing the international border: Colonel Wolmaraans on aw85517480@gmail.com . The Bergville Station Commandercan also be emailed on Bergville-saps@saps.gov.za .

If hikers have paid to enter through Witsieshoek Resort then I would also suggest hikers engage with them over this matter. Since we derive no income at all from the fees charged to hikers in our area by Witsieshoek, they should also be involved in addressing concerns from hikers who are paying them for entry into that area. Witsieshoek can be contacted on 058 7136361 and emailed on jan@tfpd.co.za . The samegoes for any incidents around the chain ladders.

Thanks again Chris,

Kind regards


Stephen Richert
Officer in Charge: Royal Natal National Park
Ukhahlamba Drakensberg Park Component of:
Maloti-Drakensberg Park World Heritage Site
EZEMVELO KZN WILDLIFE
Tel: +27 (0)36 438 6412| Mobile: 082 459 0279
Email: Stephen.Richert@kznwildlife.com


Take nothing but litter, leave nothing but a cleaner Drakensberg.
Last edit: 15 Jan 2019 20:00 by intrepid.
The following user(s) said Thank You: Serious tribe, Captain, GriffBaker, WarrenM

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

More
15 Jan 2019 21:58 #74546 by intrepid
Replied by intrepid on topic Berg Alert 2019

GriffBaker wrote: I phoned Upper Tugela Police station (The station at Mnweni) last week out of personal interest. 

I may have not communicated what I was asking correctly or not spoken to
the correct person but neither of the two officers I spoke to had heard
of Ntonjelana pass or of any incidents and they said that they did not
patrol the mountains, this was for SANDF.

Thanks for attempting that. We may well encounter responses like that at times but I would encourage hikers not to be put off by it. If there has been harassment and/or a crime has been committed, especially on SA soil, it is a police matter, no matter where it is, and we as citizens simply have to insist on that. As mentioned by Stephen Richert in his email posted earlier, opening a case requires the SAPS to investigate, and I would say even more so if more than one case is opened as the incidents happen. At least making an entry in the OB register (which can be done over the phone) officially records the incident, and as mentioned previously, it is this official reporting that we need more of. It is the one thing that we as hikers can do to help.

Herman wrote: I've spoken to a South African diplomat about the LDF incidents. He said that if we can give him a formal report, possibly through an official body such as the MCSA (or maybe through KZN Wildlife, @Ranger?), he will ensure that it reaches the right people on the Lesotho side.

Would those who have knowledge of such incidents please PM me? I'm happy to get the ball rolling, but if @Ranger and/or @Intrepid can be involved that would be best.

Thanks Herman, I have sent you a PM.

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

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

More
18 Jan 2019 13:51 - 18 Jan 2019 13:55 #74563 by Philip
Replied by Philip on topic Berg Alert 2019
For a number of reasons it has taken me a while to summon the courage to post here. I would like to make some observations, they are general observations and are not meant to be disrespectful to anyone or a comment on any particular unfortunate ‘incident’
between hikers and local people in the Maluti Mountains of Lesotho or the South
African Drakensberg – I fully realise I was not there! 

In my opinion, there is no doubt that the perpetrator(s) mentioned at the start of
this thread, dressed in items of camouflage clothing and carrying automatic
rifles were members of the Lesotho Army. I have encountered men fitting this
description elsewhere along the Eastern border of Lesotho over the last two
years or so. 

From what I remember, the general consensus at a meeting I attended hosted by EKZN Wildlife
in RNNP almost two years ago was that a visible presence by the Lesotho Army
along their Eastern border would be welcomed in an attempt to help control
robbers, dagga smugglers and stock thieves. As I havewritten in our Notes on Basotho Culture (published elsewhere on Vertical Endeavour),
there is a ‘technical’ border along the top of the Drakensberg, the watershed
or continental divide – this is the one marked on most maps, and a ‘perceived’ border
– the cliffs or ‘Dilomo tsa Natala’ the Cliffs of Natal in Sesotho. Whether we
South Africans like it or not, the perceived border is the one understood by
99% of Basotho, including those with an education, such as Lesotho border officials
and soldiers. As South Africans there is nothing we can do that will change this
perception, besides a mass education and awareness campaign which would most likely have
limited success, so in my opinion, we may as well get used to it. Yes, and that
includes the top of the Amphitheatre. 

For sometime hikers hiking along the top of the Drakensberg have been strongly encouraged
by South African authorities to carry their passports with them. Bearing in
mind my previous point, once hikers have crested the cliffs of the Drakensberg
Escarpment, in my opinion, and in common with most international borders,
hikers should be willing to show their passports to Lesotho officials, and
would be wise to be respectful, friendly and forthcoming about where they have
come from and where they are going, whether they may consider they are standing
on South African soil or not. 

The Lesotho Army patrols are there to curb criminal activity. Unfortunately it is
almost inevitable that there will be a few ‘bad apples’ among them. I am not
excusing this type of behavior, but when hiking along an international border
perhaps it is prudent to put away opinions about who is standing on who’s soil,
whether expressed or implied, as this could very unfortunately be mistaken for arrogance
and disrespect, and perhaps instead express some gratitude in simple Sesotho (kea
leboha) for what they are trying to achieve.

Hikers may well be surprised by the positive response they get.  
Last edit: 18 Jan 2019 13:55 by Philip.
The following user(s) said Thank You: elinda, tonymarshall, Grandeur, AdrianT, Richard Hunt, GriffBaker

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

More
19 Jan 2019 09:46 #74564 by GetaPix
Replied by GetaPix on topic Berg Alert 2019
Certainly a helpful insightful post and thanks for this Philip. I agree with all said. Borders, passports etc can all be complied with but I do believe these three men are a potential hazard that in some way or another has to be addressed. Education, knowledge, respect and all will come to no avail when 3 men act according to a law of their own as they have been doing.
The following user(s) said Thank You: Grandeur

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

More
20 Jan 2019 07:28 - 20 Jan 2019 07:28 #74565 by Richard Hunt
Replied by Richard Hunt on topic Berg Alert 2019
These LDF guys must of been smoking dagga (Matekoane) and were most probably not in a normal frame of mind. We are in Africa and must expect to encounter situations such as this from time to time and the outcome depends on how we react (our body language, facial expressions, tone of voice and words we use) Maybe everyone who hikes on the escarpment border should at least learn a few greeting words and this will be the first line of respect. When I recently cycled through Lesotho I made sure to learn all the basic greeting words and a few extra words and this made all the difference! Also over years of observation I have never seen a shepherds hut (Motebo) on the SA side of the watershed border, some how they know not to build there. At the end of the day it has nothing to do with where the border is but on how we interact with them. I highly recommend this book to all who hike on the escarpment. I purchased my copy from the Sani Backpackers Lodge.

 

Please login or register to view the image attached to this post.

Last edit: 20 Jan 2019 07:28 by Richard Hunt.
The following user(s) said Thank You: Stijn, Herman, Redshift3, Papa Dragon, Dave, GriffBaker

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

More
22 Jan 2019 11:01 #74572 by GetaPix
Replied by GetaPix on topic Berg Alert 2019

Richard Hunt wrote: These LDF guys must of been smoking dagga (Matekoane) and were most probably not in a normal frame of mind. 
 


Before this thread start following the wrong frame of mind I believe it is important to correct this. I believe the last 2 posts on the Basutho culture etc had the right intentions. However, please do not assume and make conclusions about these men and possibly even worse, excuse them. I know with Geoff's account this was different yet in our encounter these men were not on Dagga. The only drug they were on was that which any irresponsible person would experience walking around with an R4.

Not one person in our party at any time was disrespectful in any way. I believe the only thing that prevented a tense moment from escalating was the patience, as well as proper understanding of the situation. Threatening and being aggressive towards a 9 year old boy and avoiding a situation with this boys dad I can only ascribe to my friends character and moral fibre. In my talks with these men I was tense and for the duration of the conversation my mind was racing as to release the tension and saying with respect whatever I could to ease this mood. Never have I experienced this type of behaviour and I don't believe any hiker should have to face this kind of encounter and even more so the incident Geoff had.

Dagga, border disputes, linguistics, culture neither any other reasonable excuse I will "bless "these men with. This I say not with a vengeful attitude towards them because of what we experienced, but because I firmly believe this encounter belong in the thread "Berg Alert" and should be treated as such for the safety of everybody.

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

More
23 Jan 2019 01:22 #74576 by intrepid
Replied by intrepid on topic Berg Alert 2019
One of the founding objectives of VE has been to create a place where explorers of the Berg can talk openly about their encounters there - even the negative ones. I've always believed the security issues should be openly reported and discussed, and that wherever possible some follow up should be done about it. The issues are not always easy to talk about, let alone the added forum dynamic where we communicate only with written words and cannot depend on voice tone and body language to help convey what we are trying to say.

Thank you for the good points regarding how we interact with the Basotho and learning more about their culture. The stated intention of the Berg Alert threads (as detailed in the first post of each annual thread) has always been to maintain a true picture about what is going in the Berg, not to stir up negative feelings or prejudice against any particular culture , but in order to help visitors make informed decisions so that they may avoid problems themselves. I have now expanded this introductory blurb at the start of this thread. I have also made mention that hikers should carry their passports if they intend hiking along the escarpment (Ranger also mentioned this previously).

Thank you GetaPix and Geoff for providing us with the details of exactly what happened. These details are vital. Your incidents have also not happened in isolation - a similar trend already exists in the Amphitheatre area. More has happened there than has reached this forum and I really wish we had these details to help us maintain a true and balanced picture of what is going on. If we can get these issues reported through appropriate channels we may well see a decline in this trend.

Take nothing but litter, leave nothing but a cleaner Drakensberg.
The following user(s) said Thank You: JonWells, GetaPix, Philip

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

More
23 Jan 2019 12:01 - 23 Jan 2019 12:02 #74578 by Philip
Replied by Philip on topic Berg Alert 2019
"Also over years of observation I have never seen a shepherds hut (Motebo) on the SA side of the watershed border, some how they know not
to build there. At the end of the day it has nothing to do with where
the border is but on how we interact with them. I highly recommend this
book to all who hike on the escarpment. I purchased my copy from the
Sani Backpackers Lodge".

Hi Richard,

With respect, there are Metibo on the Eastern Slopes of the approaches to the Northern Hodgsons Peaks...

I fully endorse your recommendation of the book 'Shepherd Boy of the Maluti' and have mentioned it elsewhere! Happy reading :-)
Last edit: 23 Jan 2019 12:02 by Philip.

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

More
20 Feb 2019 10:17 - 20 Feb 2019 20:58 #74669 by Viking
Replied by Viking on topic Berg Alert 2019
Just by way of interest and as a follow-up to the escarpment harassment cases reported above - I have it on good authority that EKZNW has escalated these complaints to the SAPS, SANDF and the LDF.
I also happen to know that some of the complainants have been less than speedy in supplying EKZNW with affidavits, despite numerous requests for these.
It is one thing to post wildly on social media, but that does not hold any official weight in cross departmental and international communications. So I'd urge any complainants who have encountered this type of behavior to cooperate with EKZNW timeously for the good of all users.

“Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting, So… get on your way!”
Last edit: 20 Feb 2019 20:58 by Viking.
The following user(s) said Thank You: Serious tribe, GriffBaker

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

More
20 Feb 2019 11:27 #74670 by GetaPix
Replied by GetaPix on topic Berg Alert 2019
Interesting observation. Ive been contacted via e-mail about this but thus far have not received further formal action to take as I believe this is something that we are trying to address as a group. Ive just now sent a mail following up but perhaps you could be more specific with the your comment here? Other than the contact over mail, I have not received any correspondence from KZN or any other governing or, legal body advising of channels and actions to take from my side at least. I have in much detail set out dates and times and places of our incident and don't wish to duplicate anything. Perhaps contacting those who had these ordeals directly would be of more help? Even more so by the bodies who can actually do something about this and who claim to want to do something about it.

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

More
Powered by Kunena Forum