72-year-old woman chases down bag snatchers

By admin
07 May 2015

“You are not going to do this to me,” a 72-year-old woman told a pair of thieves who got more than they bargained for when they tried to rob her of her handbag - and she fought back.

After landing a kick to the stomach of one of her assailants and being part of a relatively high speed foot chase through the quiet streets of St James in Cape Town on Monday, Yvonne Viljoen managed to avert losing all her valuables to a “rather polite” pair of crooks.

Viljoen was walking towards Boyes Drive at 16:00 on Wednesday to catch a lift with a friend as her car was in for a service, she told News24.

Viljoen needed to climb a flight of steps to reach their meeting point. This was not a challenge as, despite her age, she is still able to cycle, swim and walk her dogs, she pointed out.

“When I reached the end of the walkway, I looked up and saw two well-dressed young men who were on their way down. I decided to wait for them to descend as the steps are quite narrow,” she recalls.

One of the men told her to walk up as there was enough room for all three of them to pass.

“When we met each other half way, one of the fellows stopped me. He told me not to worry, touched the necklace I was wearing and politely asked: ‘Wouldn’t you like to give this to us?’

“He then pointed at my bag and asked if I would mind handing over my bag. I replied: ‘Oh no – you are not going to do this to me’.”

One suspect then got hold of the strap of her handbag and started to tug.

“But I tightened my grip and shouted, ‘It’s mine!’

“I kicked him in the stomach, but unfortunately not hard enough. He momentarily lost his balance, recovered and grabbed my bag before running off.”

‘I actually want that bag’

Viljoen said while she initially considered allowing the men to escape, she decided “I actually want that bag”.

“I started shouting for help and chased after them. I was wearing my walking shoes so it wasn’t that difficult. While I was running, I realised I wouldn’t know what to do if I caught up to them. I continued, nonetheless.”

She spotted the duo trying to hide in a tiny alley in a row of garages.

“I went up to them and asked them to return my property. I grabbed the strap and we were involved in a tug of war. He won, and the two of them ran off towards Main Road,” she said.

Again, Viljoen decided to chase after them.

“On my way I spotted my neighbour’s son and shouted what had happened. The men were heading to St James train station and he followed suit, with me trailing them.”

The chase

As she ran across the Main Road, a motorist pulled over and joined in the chase.

“A group of men who realised what was happening spotted the two and pointed out that they were hiding in the bathing boxes. My neighbour’s son and the motorist then cornered them and gave them a good talking to, telling them how bad it is to rob old ladies.”

One of the thieves then handed over the handbag with a mumbled apology.

“I was just happy to have it back with all its contents. I wasn’t willing to just hand my things over,” she said.

Local security company Mountain Men took the suspects to the Muizenberg police station where they were charged with robbery.

“One is always encouraged not to resist when being threatened, but I didn’t want to be a victim. I want to feel safe in my community, walk freely and not be afraid of being held up by robbers.

“I think they learnt their lesson. They will probably think twice before targeting older people in future.”


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