A lookout hut built to prevent muggings on the St James and Muizenberg catwalk is a white elephant because there’s no one to man it, according to City Law Enforcement.
The post was empty when a man armed with a rock assaulted a 55-year-old woman while she was jogging on the catwalk last Sunday, bringing to six the number of attacks on the popular tourist spot since the start of the year.
Within minutes of the
attack, pictures were doing the rounds on social media of bloodstains on the catwalk.
The lookout was built last year on Bailey’s Cottage grounds in response to a string of violent attacks along the catwalk.
The Muizenberg Improvement District (MID), Law Enforcement, the Passenger Rail Agency of
South Africa, the Kalk Bay St
James Special Ratings Area,
SAPS and various neighbourhood watches collaborated on the project (“Safety project to safeguard catwalk,” Echo, April 5, 2018).
But Law Enforcement spokesman Wayne Dyason told the
Echo that while officers had been in the area at the time of the latest attack none had been on duty in the lookout.
There were not enough officers to man it eight hours a day, he said.
According to Muizenberg police spokesman Captain Stephen Knapp, a 25-year old man was arrested thanks to the swift response from members of the public and a security guard.
The man faces a charge of assault with the intent to do grievous bodily harm. He appeared in the Muizenberg Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday August 6.
Captain Knapp said the woman was treated at the scene and taken to a medical facility.
In July 2017, a small gang of youths, and two people masquerading as a couple, committed a slew of muggings along the St James catwalk and Muizenberg beach.
Four attacks and robberies were reported in December 2016, and a German tourist was hit on the head with a hammer during an attack in June 2017,
The “couple” would pretend to be kissing or watching the sea before attacking their selected victim (“Muggings on St James catwalk,” Echo, July 13,2017).
In October 2017, two elderly women were attacked on the catwalk. One of them suffered serious head injuries and had to be hospitalised after a man on the overhead railway bridge dropped a rock on her head (“Catwalk crime includes attempted murder,” Echo, November 2,2017).
Muizenberg MID chairman Peter Corbett said he couldn’t comment on the effectiveness of the lookout because it was outside the MID boundary, but he added that visitors to Muizenberg might be affected, so the MID would support any possible efforts to improve public safety.
Angela Botha, from Fish Hoek Tourism, blamed a lack of law enforcement and the increase in lawlessness for the attack.
Violent attacks shocked locals and tourists alike, she said, and could see fewer visitors to the country.
The Cape Argus reported that the son of Ukrainian businessman Ivan Ivanov, who was stabbed to death hiking on Chapman’s Peak last month, has vowed never to visit South Africa.
Meanwhile Tourism Minister Mmamakolo Kubayi-Ngubane said tourists’ safety was a top priority for the government.
A memorial service was held for Mr Ivanov on Sunday August 4, hours after the catwalk attack.