I have always wondered what my reaction would be in a situation where my life was in danger and on Saturday June 3 on the St James walkway I learned that my response to threat is to flee. And this is what I did after two men held me and my partner at knifepoint.
Shortly after 4.30pm, just as a surfing competition at Muizenberg beach was wrapping up, we started on the walkway, despite it being rather quiet.
But as we approached the brightly coloured bathing boxes at St James, wo young men, possibly in their early 20s, approached us.
One was wearing a black hoodie and the other, a yellow one, and each was wearing a black beanie.
I immediately felt a pang of worry and and asked my partner if we should turn around but he assured me that we would be fine, giving the men the benefit of the doubt.
Then it all happened very quickly.
Despite my initial suspicion of the men, the sight of the knife, revealed from underneath one of their hoodies, surprised me so that I turned around and bolted, leaving Adam behind.
But very quickly, he also turned and ran, the two shouting at us not to run.
In a panic we ran and warned an elderly man along the way that the men behind us were armed and he started running too.
As soon as we found an escape route to the Main Road, we took it and were grateful that it was bustling with people filling their water bottles at the spring.
Then we phoned the police, urging them to dispatch someone to the area to prevent anyone else falling prey to the two men who had tried to rob us.
They assured us they would.
It took us about 40 minutes to walk back to Muizenberg along Main Road and in that time we warned a number of people on the walkway heading towards St James, about the two men. Not at any point did I see a police van heading to St James.
Muizenberg Community Safety Initiative (MCSI) chairman, Trevor Snyders said that MCSI regularly held meetings with SAPS and law enforcement about the dangers in the area and were aware of the problems on the walk- way.
Recently a jogger was held at gun-
point on the walkway (‘Would-be catwalk
robbers brought to book,” Echo, April 6), and in that instance,
SAPS managed to apprehend the culprits.
“We regularly patrol in the area and we have a vague idea of who the culprits are, but the sad thing is that unless we catch them committing a crime, there is nothing we can do. A number of members have been attacked in the past but they refuse to lay charges with SAPS,” said Mr Snyders.
“It’s not that we’re not doing anything. Members of SAPS, law enforcement and the neighbourhood watch do regular patrols in the area. Beach attacks happen on a regular basis from Sunrise Circle to Somerset. The beach is beautiful on that stretch, but there are a number of elements which try and target you.
While Mr Snyders was unable to identify specific times which were safer to walk on the walkway, he advised residents to avoid walking there alone and to keep any valuables, such as cellphones or jewellery, out of sight.
The stretch from Muizenberg to St James is short. Do you need your wallet when you’re walking on that stretch? Do you need to be on your phone? In the event of an attack, don’t resist. If you ensue in struggle, you could get stabbed. If you get an opportunity to run, run,” said Mr Snyders.
Mr Snyders advised residents to report crime to SAPS because the more attacks reported, the more safety personnel police would be obliged to deploy to the area.
Muizenbeg police spokesperson, Captain Stephen Knapp said while the 10111 number does link up to their system, he had been unable to trace my complaint, which, he said, warranted investigation.
“We are pro-active on the beach and walkway and do regular patrols in the area, but it seems robbers can smell us as nothing happens when we’re there,” he said.
“People need to alert us about suspicious behaviour seen on the catwalk because we’re proactive when it comes to robberies but we would like to catch these men before it amounts to that. “Robberies on the beach and walkway occur quite often as people are opportunistic on that stretch,” said Captain Knapp.
He urged residents to follow their gut when they felt something was not right and to be alert to strange behaviour of others on the walk- way.
“Leave your cellphone at home and walk in a group. Note suspicious behaviour, it is a catwalk after all, if anyone is doing anything apart from walking, be alert.
“People walking early in the morning and in the late afternoon are particularly at risk,” said Captain Knapp.