Burman Bush.
DURBAN – FORMER KwaZulu-Natal Philharmonic Orchestra musician Simon Milliken was cremated at Stellawood Crematorium on Monday.

He was killed while visiting Burman Bush Nature Reserve.

Milliken’s death – he was robbed, stabbed and left to die while walking on a nature trail – raised questions about the lack of security in Durban’s nature reserves.

The Sunday Tribune visited the Pigeon Valley Nature Reserve in Glenwood, Kenneth Stainbank Nature Reserve in Montclair and Silverglen Nature Reserve in Chatsworth which have been described as crime hot spots.

At Pigeon Valley there were openings around the fence which allowed red duikers to graze freely outside.

A security guard hired by the community, John Biyela, said students were frequently mugged in the area. Earlier this year a decomposed body was found in the area, he said.

Vagrants also caused havoc. “They target students who walk along the deserted King George Avenue. They rob them of laptops, cellphones and cash,” Biyela said.

His colleague, Mike Stones, recalled seeing vagrants jumping over the fence before disappearing inside the reserve.

“They just rob people and flip over the fence for hiding. It is difficult to find them once they are inside the thick bush,” he said.

At Kenneth Stainbank Nature Reserve, Montclair resident Mike Lomas said crime subsided after more security guards started patrolling the area.

Before that there were cases of vagrants hiding in the reserve after stealing from houses nearby, he said.

The Silverglen Nature Reserve was closed. A security guard who did not want to be named said the area has been closed for the past six months.

He said dead bodies were being dumped in the reserve.

Two months ago land invaders from uMlazi township tried to build shacks there, but were stopped by the anti-land invasion unit.

A regular visitor confirmed that some of the activities at the reserve were suspended after crime surged. Head of Parks, Recreation and Culture, Thembinkosi Ngcobo said the death of Milliken happened at a time when the municipality planned to fence all its nature reserves.

“We have been aware that fencing needed to be fixed, but we did not have enough budget at the time. To avert crime we have installed 24-hour surveillance.”.

KZN Wildlife spokesperson Musa Mntambo said nature reserves managed by Ezemvelo were safe for the public to use.

SUNDAY TRIBUNE