Panga gang attacks group of cyclists near Stellenbosch

A traumatised cyclist has spoken out after five men armed with pangas and knives robbed a cycling group of their bicycles near Langa.

Abdullah Jaffar, the owner of Jafmed Pharmacy in Ottery, and his fellow cyclists were riding to Stellenbosch when the assailants attacked them on Jan Smuts Drive on Sunday.

“It could have been a lot worse. Somebody could have gotten stabbed. They didn’t come with guns thankfully.

“We don’t know what could have happened in that situation. You have to count your blessings and just be thankful that you live to ride for another day,” he said.

Jaffar and 12 other cyclists were coming from the Rondebosch side when they were attacked. The ride was part of their preparation for upcoming cycling events.

He and his friend were taken to a hospital.

“We came down Jan Smuts Drive towards Epping. As we came over the bridge approaching Pinelands we saw about five or six guys crossing from Langa.

“We were close to each other and as we approached them, the guys at the back saw these guys pulling out a long knife. Others had sticks and pangas.

“They physically pushed me off the bike. I mean we must have been doing either 35 or 36km/h, so I hit the deck quite hard. My other friend also got knocked off quite badly. I think five or six of us fell.

“As I was lying on the floor the guys came at me and I just said they must take the bike because that was obviously what they came for.”

The robbers fled on foot and disappeared in the Langa area with three of their bikes.

“We have ridden that route quite often. We have been riding to Stellenbosch now for the past four weeks. It is the first time something like this happened to us.

“We have now heard from the other guys that it has happened before in that particular area and seems a bit of a hot spot.”

Jaffar added that cyclists felt safer when riding in numbers and was puzzled by the attack.

“These guy were so brazen. I mean there were 13 of us. They just came at us. If it wasn’t us, it was either the group coming behind us or the group ahead of us.

“There are so many cyclists in that route training because there are two big rides coming up. They were there and targeting cyclists. They were prepared and knew exactly what to do and who to go for.”

Pedal Power Association chief executive Robert Vogel said: “We all know that crime is rampant in the city in all respects, but what shocks me the most is the violence.

“To be attacked with a panga the criminals were prepared to take somebody’s life or cause serious injuries just for the bicycle.

“The other thing is that location where this happened. I was talking to somebody just two days ago and he was chased by somebody who tried to knock him off his bike, but he got away. It seems now that it is one of the latest hot spots in Cape Town.”

He said hijacking of cyclists has been a common occurrence and no steps were taken to prevent this.

“It’s nothing new. It’s just that we don’t know where it is going to happen next. There have been issues in Ocean View, Kommetjie now it’s Jan Smuts Drive. It seems to move all over the city.”

Police spokesperson Andre Traut said the circumstances of the robbery were being investigated and no one had been arrested.

Cape Times


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