Robbers target cyclists, bikers

Pretoria - Five cyclists and three motorcyclists were attacked and robbed of their cellphones, money and bikes shortly after one another near Pretoria on Saturday morning.

Two armed robbers hid in the long grass next to a gravel road in Hoekplaats, south-west of the city, and forced the eight men off their bikes, tying them up with wire.

Deon Cilliers, 39, from Lonehill in Johannesburg, who was attacked along with four other cyclists belonging to the Cycle Lab cycling club, said on Sunday that the robbers were very calm and focused.

Training ride

"We were on a training ride and went up the steep hill, as always, because it's good exercise," said Cilliers.

On their way up the hill they were overtaken by three motorcyclists.

"When we came close to the top of the hill I saw one of the motorcyclists lying face-down on the ground. The next moment an armed robber jumped in front of me and pointed a silver revolver at me and my friend.

"The robber told us to be quiet and stay calm. He and another robber made us lie down on our stomachs next to the three motorcyclists and tied our hands behind our backs.

"Three minutes later they overpowered the next cyclist, and another minute later the last two cyclists were also attacked."

The robbers took their cellphones.

"One of the cyclists' right hand is smaller than his left hand, so he was able to free himself and untie the rest of us."

Motorbikes left behind

The motorcyclists, whose vehicles were left behind by the robbers, gave the cyclists a lift and flagged down a police vehicle.

"Every weekend we hear about another bicycle hijacking; it has to be stopped," he said.

Police spokesperson Agnes Huma said the value of the stolen goods, including the five bicycles, amounts to about R200 000.

André Snyman, head of the national anti-crime cellphone network eblockwatch, said they are in the process of establishing a national helpline for cyclists.

"Lately we've realised that more and more cyclists are being hijacked, so we decided to launch a nationwide support system for cyclists. Bicycles don't have tracking systems like many cars do, and it's much easier to sell a stolen bicycle than it is to sell a car," said Snyman.

"Some of these bicycles cost up to R65 000, so it's 'easy money' for the criminals.

"A bicycle is also much easier to move and hide than a car."

Snyman said eblockwatch will provide its cyclist members with an emergency reaction service on their cellphones, and in future they will ask security companies to help secure popular cycling routes in Gauteng on Saturdays.


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