Police didn't know where Lion's Head was, mugging victim claims

2015-07-21 14:50

Cape Town – Two young, obviously fit muggers brazenly ran down a Lion’s Head trail in broad daylight at the weekend, stopping groups of tourists along the way to steal their belongings before carrying on.

But when the mugging victims tried to call the police toll-free line, the operator allegedly had no idea where Lion's Head was.

One of their victims, Stellenbosch University Phd student and researcher Asmus Zoch, even mistook the muggers for trail runners from afar.

He is a trail runner himself and often hikes up the popular tourist attraction.

When he saw all the backpacks and purses slung across the muggers' bodies, it became clear that they were not using the trail for exercise.

To make matters worse, the tourists claimed they tried calling the 10111 emergency police number afterwards, but failed to get through or were greeted with an automatic recording.

“When we finally got to the police station, they didn’t know where Lion’s Head is so they said: ‘Well, we don’t know where it is and we don’t know what to do’,” Zoch claimed on Tuesday, adding that he didn’t know which police station they were put through to.

A South African man who was hiking with his Irish friend lower down the trail had apparently managed to hold onto his phone. Zoch said the man then called his sister to ask her to try the emergency number and she apparently experienced the same thing.

Knife against the neck

Zoch had earlier decided that the perfect way to introduce his French friend to Cape Town would be to hike up together, so they could enjoy the views.

Just hours after the developmental researcher arrived in the city, they were held up with a knife while ascending the mountain on a sunny Sunday afternoon.

“We were just talking about inequality and racial problems and the next moment is that these two guys come in front of us, and she thinks they are two friends of mine because she doesn’t expect anything … they hold a knife against her neck and tell her: ‘Give us everything or we kill you’,” he said.

Zoch, who is in the socio-economic policy unit at Stellenbosch University, said everything happened so fast.

When he was in Durban earlier in the year, a mugger held a knife to his stomach and demanded his belongings.

In comparison, Zoch did not feel too threatened this time because he didn’t have a knife pointed at him.

However, he handed over his phone and his friend handed her backpack with her passport, money and expensive jackets inside.

The two had to organise new travelling documents so she could make her hiking trip to the Alps later this week.

Mugging conveyor belt

“They started high up in the mountain and every hiker coming up the mountain, they were on them in seconds. In that way, they could rob like nine people in total,” he said.

The other tourists, including some German women, lost everything, including cameras and passports, Zoch said.

"They were completely frustrated and desperate because they wanted to leave the country in the evening and they couldn’t anymore.”

Zoch claimed it took 25 minutes to get through to police, by which time the thieving pair had long since disappeared into a forest on the Camp’s Bay side of the mountain.

“We just know that the police never showed up and that it took forever to get a response.”

National police spokesperson Vishnu Naidoo and the provincial police media office did not immediately respond to the claims.

After speaking to a ranger at the bottom of the trail, Zoch believed rangers may have been focusing their efforts on two rescue missions with a helicopter in the vicinity.

A detective later informed them that some passports and backpacks were recovered at the bottom of the mountain.

Beautiful country

“In the afternoon, we talked at the city police station and asked them why they don’t know where Lion’s Head is. And they said that no, that’s not possible, because everyone would know where it is.”

Zoch said he would only hike up again if there were a lot of people, like during the full moon hike, or if security improved. However, he would continue to invite his friends to the country.

“My girlfriend from Germany is still coming to visit me in a few months and I still have other friends coming in November. This is such a beautiful country and it would be such a shame if people don’t come here anymore. We need these people for our tourism industry,” he said.

“If you give them [the muggers] better education, if you give them better job opportunities, I don’t think at all these two would be ending up robbing tourists.”

Police spokesperson FC van Wyk confirmed earlier in the week that three robbery cases were opened at Cape Town Central police station on Sunday and that no one had yet been arrested.

Read more on:    cape town  |  crime

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Financial advisors – Do you need one and should you get one?

The good, the bad, and everything else you need to know when considering hiring a financial advisor.


Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.