December 31, 2009 Leave a comment
Hermanus tourists will be given guards, pepper spray, whistles to protect them from feral attackers…
31-Dec-2009 HERMANUS, South Africa A fifth group of tourists hiking at Fernkloof reserve in Hermanus has been attacked within just a few months. Three international volunteers lodging at nearby Camphill School were held up at knifepoint on Monday morning by two men who stole their camera and a cellphone, police spokeswoman Pindelwa Mavakala said. And just as had happened in previous attacks, the attackers stoned the hikers, telling them to look away.
The hikers – Brazilian Luca Reigosa, Swiss Cornelia Schneider and German Anna Fliske, aged between 19 and 26, according to Mavakala – were not injured.
This comes one week after a Canadian couple of South African descent were stabbed, stoned and left bound by two men at the intersection of a jeep track and a hiking trail. A week before that, an Italian couple were attacked: noted is the extreme violence and cruelty with which these attacks are carried out: for instance, a party of elderly South African hikers was cruelly beaten with their own walking sticks.
Municipal manager Werner Zybrandts said the two women were body-searched by the attackers. Four of the five attacks occurred at this site and police are investigating “whether the attacks are linked”. After Monday’s attack, which happened shortly after 11am, the three hikers walked down to the information centre at the Fernkloof Nature Reserve entrance. Law enforcement officers subsequently arrested a man they found in the reserve, Zybrandts said. Later, in the Hemel-en-Aarde valley on the other side of the mountain, Mavakala said a security guard had become suspicious and followed a man who was slowly driving a vehicle close to Camphill Farm while talking on a cellphone. "Two guys climbed into the car and he dropped them off later, close to Hermanus," she said.
Police officers, who had arrived on the scene, arrested all three men and found the hikers’ cellphone and camera in bushes close by. Zybrandts said one of the four men – who were still in police custody late Tuesday – had been positively linked to Monday’s mugging. "We’re still busy with investigations to see if we can recover any of the items that were stolen in the other attacks," said Mavakala. As a result of the previous four attacks, Zybrandts said, warning signs had been erected at six of the reserve’s informal entrances, warning hikers of the attacks and urging them to use the main entrance where they could sign in to a control book.
The three hikers mugged on Monday had not, however, passed one of these signs. "They came in from a totally different area on the other side of the mountain. There are no signs there." In the first attack on November 12, an Italian couple was held up while sitting on a bench. One week later a German couple was held up at knifepoint nearby, and a week after that eight elderly South African hikers from Strand were beaten with their own walking sticks, said reserve manager Grant Forbes. http://ping.fm/HOQ1z
Janet and Martin Stern, SA expats from Toronto, were tied up, thrown with rocks, beaten and then left behind, bleeding and injured; Fernkloof nature reserve, Hermanus
“They were vicious,’ the victims told Canadian TV news
Dec 25 2009. The Sterns had visited Hermanus annually for the past 10 years, but this Christmas Day they found themselves pleading for their lives after being stabbed, stoned, bound and robbed. This was the fourth attack in two months at the Fernkloof reserve. The news of the latest attack hit the headlines in Canada. http://ping.fm/cFNSx
The latest victims in a spate of violent attacks in the Hermanus mountains told the Canadian news media how they were stabbed, stoned, bound and robbed while hiking. Martin, 59, and Janet, 57, Stern, left, were left bruised and lacerated after the "completely senseless" attack.
Picture of a shoeless, blood-covered Mr Stern during rescue from the Hermanus mountain, picture by News24 reader Andrew Brooks
A concerned local hiker, Delia Scott, has offered a R1,000 reward for information about the attacks: "It is very close to our hearts because my husband and I often hike that route," she said.
Municipal manager Werner Zybrandts said Hermanus was stepping up its security in the area, erecting warning signs and offering security guards, pepper spray and whistles for hiking groups. Martin said having hiked for more than half an hour from the entrance to the reserve at the bottom of the kloof, they were walking along a jeep track on top of the mountain when they passed two men walking in the opposite direction. "I said good morning, and they nodded," he said, speaking from his hospital bed at Hermanus Medi-Clinic. A few seconds later they heard running footsteps behind them and presumed joggers were approaching. "The next thing we knew we were being stabbed in the back. I was stabbed next to my kidney, and they stabbed Janet in the arm," said Martin. "They pushed us to the ground and picked up rocks." One attacker smashed Martin across the face with a rock and ripped his bag from his back using his knife.
"They had large hunting knives that looked about 12 inches (30cm) long, then they really started roughing us up. " Janet started saying to them: ‘Would you treat your mother like this?’" Every time she said it they beat her again. "I was trying to reason with them, but they were totally out of control," she said. "I think they were drugged up," said Martin.
Picture below: Cape Times, Michael Walker, also read Canadian news article: http://ping.fm/8pw7A
"They were completely senseless – there was no rationale. "If they had just come to us with knives I would have given them the money equally." The attackers took a camera, Janet’s watch and wedding ring and cellphone before forcing them down the slope away from the road, throwing rocks at them as they walked. About 30m down the slope the attackers used the couples’ shoelaces to bind their feet and hands.
"We were feeling very faint and we were beginning to pass out and they told us to lie down. One of them kept saying: ‘Don’t kill them. Don’t kill them.’ Our worst thoughts were that they would slit our throats, or rape. "Janet said to me in Hebrew: ‘We’re going to pray to God,’ and then they left us." The couple were left alone, dehydrated, drenched in blood and weak…
"There were flies all around us. The blood was caked everywhere." Reaching a bench at a viewing site, Martin said: "We can’t stay here. We’re losing too much blood." Staggering again down the jeep track, they saw a group of hikers approaching – the Jouberts. They gave them water, mopped their brows, applied a tourniquet to Martin’s worst wound and called rescuers, who airlifted the couple to hospital. "They saved us," said Janet of the Jouberts.
Martin Stern said they agreed to be interviewed "because I don’t want anyone else to be killed." Originally from South Africa, the Sterns moved to Canada more than 20 years ago. Born in Cape Town, Martin Stern is a vice-president and financial adviser at CIBC Wood Gundy. The couple had been returning to the Cape Town area annually since 1994. One of the couple’s three daughters told the Globe and Mail that her parents had no plans to change their travel arrangements in South Africa despite the attack. http://ping.fm/I7vlQ
Italian couple two months ago:
Grant Forbes, reserve manager at Fernkloof, said that in the first attack two months ago, an Italian couple were approached from behind and held up at knifepoint: "They didn’t see the guys’ faces." The other two attacks were similar. In the second, a woman was slapped in the face, and in the most recent attack, three weeks ago, eight hikers were mugged by two men who beat them with their own walking sticks.
In each incident the attackers were two men, although police Inspector David Payne still insists – despite the identical modus operandi that there ‘was no evidence linking the attacks’. They occurred on the same trail, in the same area. Zybrandts said two men were apprehended by baboon monitors after the third attack, but they were released due to a lack of evidence. "Their excuse was that they were looking for jobs," he said.http://ping.fm/yZqVX
- This article was originally published on page 1 of Cape Times on December 24, 2009
Unknown man also found dead on rock-ledge:
Police have also not yet identified the partially decomposed body found on Sunday away from a mountain about a kilometre above Voelklip beach. The circumstances surrounding his death remain murky. Contact information Overstrand municipality security officer: Director: Protection Services Contact Person: Neville Michaels Contact Number: 028 313 8914