Woman 'bike-jacked' during big cycle race

2015-08-03 17:53
(Picture: Bonita Meiring)

(Picture: Bonita Meiring)

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Cape Town - A cyclist is still in shock after a man threatened her with a long knife and took her bike, while she was competing in a major mountain biking race in Stellenbosch at the weekend.

Bonita Meiring, 49, said the attack during the Die Burger Mountain Bike Challenge had left her with "a bitter taste in her mouth". One of the organisers said this had never happened in the 15 years he had been organising similar events.

The race, in its 10th year, is one of the largest of its kind in the country, with about 4 500 riders passing through between 40 and 50 properties in the area.

Meiring, a municipal worker from St Helena Bay, was riding the 50km route on Sunday morning when a young man confronted her in a bushy, somewhat isolated area.

She had been cycling up a concrete path near the Faure water works at around 10:30.

Moments before, she had spotted a marshal with a jeep and riders pushing their bicycles a short distance behind her.

Knocked off

"I continued on and this guy came walking from up front. I thought he was a farm worker and we greeted. He eyed my bike and continued walking," she said.

"I then heard a commotion behind me. He shoved me from behind on my back and shouted 'Gee die bike jou naai' [give the bike, you fuck]."

Meiring was knocked onto the ground. She got up and turned to get her bike.

She said the man, in his 20s, stared at her and raised a 30cm knife shaped somewhat like a sword, [not a panga] daring her to come closer.

"Adrenaline kicked in and I ran along the path shouting for help. I couldn't see anybody and I just saw bush. Eventually I saw the marshal at the end of the path."

Her assailant made off with her bicycle and cellphone.

She said the marshal told her he had heard screams, but thought it was perhaps female cyclists celebrating.

"He asked for a description of the guy. Then he said he was aware of this guy and that he had tried to mug two people that morning."

She was taken back to the starting point and offered water and apologies, but still felt more could have been done.

She and her husband later opened a case at the Stellenbosch police station.

Western Cape police spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Andre Traut confirmed they were investigating the robbery and that no arrests had yet been made.


"It sort of sunk in last night [Sunday] and this morning [Monday] I am feeling a bit shaky. I have been left with a somewhat bitter taste in my mouth and am a bit terrified of doing mountain bike trails again," Meiring said.

She believed there should have been more marshals patrolling the vast area and better support from the organisers after the attack.

Organiser Meurant Botha said he viewed the incident in a very serious light and was grateful that Meiring was not injured.

"It is tremendously frustrating that many months of planning and a stressful week of setup has to be tainted by an incident of this nature," he said.

"As an immediate measure, we have decided to find an alternative venue for a large, 1 500-rider event we are hosting in the same area in September."

He said 11 managers with vehicles were responsible for portions of the routing, and they had ensured that the course was safe.

Alien vegetation

Sunday morning, they got a call on their emergency line that a suspicious man was spotted in the Faure section and the sector manager went to have a look.

"The area is covered in alien vegetation, making it very difficult to spot any culprits."

The manager stayed in the area and they received no further reports. He later assisted Meiring.

"It is a well-known fact that cycling events are targeted by criminals. Up to [now] this has been restricted to petty crime in and around parking and event staging areas," Botha said.

At least 30 security guards and 25 trained car guards were employed.

Botha felt they were unable to rely on the police because they received no response when phoning them.

Hiring armed response for future events was a possibility, but might not be feasible because ticket prices would sky-rocket, he said. He also questioned how many armed response guards would be needed to effectively cover such large areas.

"As organisers, we need to go where we feel it’s safer to run these events."

Read more on:    cape town  |  crime

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