Attacked couple thankful to be alive

What should have been a relaxing afternoon walk on the beach for Austrian couple, Klaus, 63 and Johanna, 68, Michl turned into a nightmare when they were viciously attacked by a knife-wielding man on Noordhoek beach on Thursday November 30.

Speaking to the Echo via telephone from the Melomed Tokai’s surgical ward, Mr Michl said they were thankful to be alive. He suffered two stab wounds to his chest and one to his stomach and Ms Michl had a deep stab wound in her neck which narrowly missed her carotid artery.

The couple were admitted to hospital late on Thursday afternoon where they underwent surgery and were placed in the ICU ward.

Mr Michl said they owned an apartment in Sea Point and were due to return to Austria on Saturday December 9 after a three-month holiday in South Africa.

He said they arrived in South Africa in September and had travelled extensively in the Northern Cape and Garden route and spent some time whale watching in Hermanus without any problems.

On Thursday they decided to spend the day in Noordhoek and went for a walk on the beach near the Kakapo shipwreck around noon.

Mr Michl said they spent about an hour on the beach before they made their way to the dunes as it was very windy. “We saw a man running towards us and the next minute he just started stabbing us. It all happened so fast,” Mr Michl said.

The man grabbed their backpack containing their travel documents and walked away.

Bleeding heavily and in shock, the couple tried to make their way back to the parking lot.

“Everything was just a blur and we just wanted to get back to the parking lot,” Mr Michl said.

The couple then came across a young woman walking her dogs who alerted her husband who called the ambulance and police. She helped them get back to the parking lot.

“It felt like an eternity to get back to the parking lot and when we arrived there an ambulance was waiting for us,” Mr Michl said.

He said the police never arrived to take a statement.

But this was not the end of the couple’s ordeal. As they had no passports or documents indicating they had travel assurance, they were turned away from one hospital after the other until Melomed Tokai agreed to admit them.

“We only realised how serious it was once we were in the ambulance. My wife and I had lost a lot of blood and we needed medical attention urgently,” he said.

Ms Michl was discharged from hospital on Sunday December 3 while Mr Michl was discharged on Monday December 4. They will return to their Sea Point flat until Saturday when they return to Austria.

Mr Michl said they should have all the necessary travel document ready by Saturday and were anxious to return home.

He said he was very grateful to the staff of Melomed Tokai who took great care of him and his wife and made them feel at home. He said he was not sure if they would return to South Africa in the future.

Melomed Tokai hospital manager, Gavin Pike said the couple had been in a state of shock when they were admitted on Thursday. He confirmed their release on Sunday and Monday.

The couple’s attack follows the attack of a man near the shipwreck two weeks ago.

On Friday members of the community expressed shock and anger on community Facebook group, Noordhoek community forum.

According the the group, another person fell victim to an attack on the beach near the shipwreck on Sunday December 3. This time a young woman and her dog were beaten with sticks by two men who ran off with her backpack.

Police spokesman, Warrant Officer Peter Middelton said a case of attempted murder had been opened and confirmed that a woman had been robbed on Sunday as well.

“National Parks assisted in apprehending one of the possible suspects which is a Zimbabwean national aged 27. The investigation is ongoing,” he said.

Chairperson of the Chapman’s Peak Neighbourhood Watch, Dr John Parker said he was very concerned about the attacks on the beach and that the neighbourhood watch was doing everything it could to warn residents of the dangers on the beach but it could not be held responsible to safeguard the 4km stretch of beach as it was the responsibility of SANParks and SAPS.

He said, following the attacks, many volunteers had offered to help and the watch would continue engagement with SAPS and SANParks.

SANParks spokeswoman, Merle Collins confirmed that safety on the beach was their responsibility and said following the stabbings on the beach, SANParks had had to adapt its safety and security plan, which led to the arrest of a suspect on Sunday. “SAPS is investigating and we will continue to monitor the beach,” she said.

Anyone with information about the incidents can call the investigating officer, Constable Tetyana on 021 784 2700.