Man forced to remove illegal rock cable

2014-02-11 00:00

A MEMBER of the Mountain Club of South Africa has been forced to remove a 208 metre-long steel cable that he illegally bolted into the rock-face in the upper reaches of the Royal Natal National Park inside the uKhahlamba-Drakensberg World Heritage site.

After some two years of disputing the case brought against him by Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, Alard Hufner finally admitted his guilt.

In an agreed settlement, the conservation body elected not to take the case to trial in exchange for Hufner removing the climbing cable, paying Ezemvelo’s legal and administrative costs, financing a full-page apology in the Mountain Club magazine and working for 50 hours on the park’s boundary fence.

In total, Hufner absorbed costs amounting to some R62 000. It is believed that it cost him at least R100 000 to erect the cable.

Stephen Richert, Ezemvelo’s officer in charge for Royal Natal National Park, who was tipped off about the cable, said the case against Hufner was a significant one.

“A World Heritage site is something particularly special and protecting its ‘sense of place’ is fundamental to upholding its status. The ‘via ferrata’ [cable] was installed with complete disregard to the visual impacts that such a cable would cause by encouraging climbers en masse to gain access to the sensitive, upper reaches of the Beacon Buttress.”

Aside from this, Richert said Hufner had gone about installing this cable without seeking any environmental authorisation.

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