A gunman and two knife-wielding muggers jumped from behind a bush and accosted cyclist Benjamin Bungartz just after he had walked his bicycle across a stream on a Hout Bay mountain trail.
Bungartz, originally from the US, yesterday described how he was robbed at both knife and gunpoint of his bicycle, cellphone, wallet and a few other belongings on a Karbonkelberg trail at the weekend.
The attack, one of two crimes linked to the mountain that happened at the weekend, is believed to be the first mountain mugging in which a gun has been used.
Yesterday Bungartz, who lives in Hout Bay and regularly cycles on mountain trails, said the incident had “kind of turned me off South Africa”.
On Saturday morning he had been cycling on the Karbonkelberg and when he got to a stream, he got off his bicycle to cross it.
Before he could get back on his bicycle on the other side of the stream, a man jumped out of a bushy enclosure.
“(He) grabbed my bike. He had a knife. Behind him two other guys jumped out,” Bungartz said.
“They told me to give them my stuff.”
He initially pushed a man away, but realised the the third man in the trio, who was wearing a red bandanna, had a gun.
Bungartz then handed over his belongings.
“They told me to go up the mountain. They took a separate trail down. As I was walking, one guy hit me on the back with the knife,” he said.
Bungartz walked up to a point where he could see where the trio was, then took a different route off the mountain.
He knocked on the door of a nearby home from where he called police and his wife.
Bungartz said it was the first time criminals had targeted him on a mountain.
He said cycling on mountain trails was part of who he was, but the incident had “kind of ruined it” for him.
He is not going to buy another bicycle (his cost R15 000) “any time soon”.
Police spokesman Andre Traut said the three suspects had not been arrested.
He said in another incident at 7.30am yesterday, a visitor to Tokai Forest had spotted two people trying to break into his vehicle. “After a brief altercation, the suspects left the scene,” Traut said.
Yesterday, Andre van Schalkwyk, head of the Table Mountain Safety Action Group formed years ago in reaction to the high number of mountain-related crimes, said guns were “very rarely” used in mountain muggings.
“It’s maybe the first time,” he said, referring to the Karbonkelberg mugging.
He kept track of mountain crime statistics and said there had been six muggings in the Karbonkelberg area this year and 14 incidents over the past two years.
“It’s a bad stretch. We tell people to avoid it,” he said.
Regional SANParks spokeswoman Merle Collins urged people to be vigilant and to lodge complaints with the police if they were crime victims. This could help to build profiles of suspects.
“There’s no way (Table Mountain National Park) can totally eradicate crime,” Collins said, adding no crimes had been reported in a while.
In one of the more recent incidents, a Green Point couple were attacked and their bicycles stolen on a trail in Tokai Forest in July.
Last night three hikers lost above Llandudno Ravine called emergency services and were walked down. They were not injured, said Wilderness Search and Rescue co-ordinator Anwaaz Bent.
There have been 7 attacks in the Sandy Bay / Karbonkelberg area this year (14 since start of 2012). Hout Bay Neighbourhood Watch together with the Community Police Forum as well as SAPS Hout Bay declared this area a “No-Go” in 2011.