Cyclists under attack in Gauteng as criminal cases increase

Pedal Power Association says many are giving up cycling because of the dangers

21 November 2023 - 12:12 By Shonisani Tshikalange and Rorisang Kgosana
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Cycling clubs are advised to stop posting routes on social media as one of the measures to combat a rise in criminal attacks on riders. File photo.
Cycling clubs are advised to stop posting routes on social media as one of the measures to combat a rise in criminal attacks on riders. File photo.

There has been a sharp increase in attacks on Gauteng cyclists since October, with the Pedal Power Association recording four incidents in a single day earlier this month.

Attacks have been reported around Pretoria East, Centurion and other parts of Gauteng, two of which were fatal.

Pedal Power CEO Neil Robinson said the attackers are often armed and dangerous.

“On November 2, four attacks were reported, two in Pretoria East and Bronkhorstspruit. The others were in areas between the R21 and the Red Barn [in Irene]. Groups of eight to 12 riders were attacked so riding in numbers is not deterring the perpetrators.

"On November 18 a cyclist was shot and passed away in Pretoria East towards the Bapsfontein/Delmas Road,” said Robinson.

A cyclist was recently shot twice in the Tweefontein/Bronkhorstspruit area close to the pig farm. He is recovering.

Robinson said November has seen several attacks in hotspot areas.

“It seems attacks have escalated the closer we are to the festive season, and unfortunately there is a market for purchasing stolen bikes."

"It is best to avoid quiet roads along the R21 and M18 to and from the Big Red Barn in Irene, the M57 between the R21 and the M18, Moonlight Way that connects the R21 and R57, the M26 in Erasmia, Centurion as well as Bothaslaan, the Tweefontein and Bronkhorstspruit area, the Bapsfontein and Delmas area, the farm area along Eastlands outside Kempton Park, Summit Road close to Diepsloot and the Olifantsfontein area.

"The perpetrators move around in large vehicles and bakkies and target cyclists who ride alone and in smaller groups at around 4.30am to 8.30am and between 5pm and 7pm. It is important for riders to stay close to one another as slower riders are usually targeted."

Earlier this month, a cyclist and his group of 12 members were attacked during their usual 50km Saturday ride on the R21 near Olifantsfontein at around 6am.

The cyclist, who wished to remain anonymous, opted to ride behind the rest of the group to ensure safety. Instead, he fell over his bicycle after being hit by an object thrown at him.

According to his daughter, who also wished to remain anonymous to protect her father, a group of men approached her father and took his bicycle before fleeing.

“He saw people running off with his bike. He got up and tried to chase them. The cyclists saw he was seriously injured after he was stabbed with a blade half an arm in length and 8cm wide. He was rushed to hospital,” she said.

Her father, who lives in Midstream, Centurion, was rushed to theatre for surgery on a stab wound on his back.

“He had internal bleeding and was in ICU. On Friday he was discharged and is recovering at home and trying to get over the ordeal,” she said.

She said the bicycle, a Specialised S-Works E-bike, was not recovered.

A case was opened with the Olifantsfontein police after they visited the victim in hospital to get his statement.

“My father is not commenting about it. He wants privacy. Hopefully he will be cycling again. It is something he enjoys.”

At the weekend, three suspects believed to be part of a syndicate that attacks and robs cyclists in Gauteng were arrested soon after allegedly robbing two cyclists in Olifantsfontein.

The victims were accosted by about five armed robbers driving a white Toyota Avanza. The assailants robbed the cyclists of their bicycles, cellphones and cash.

In the same area on Saturday, another incident resulted in the death of a 58-year-old. According to police, a father, his son, 18, and brother-in-law, 58, were cycling in Olifantsfontein when they came across a white Toyota Avanza with five occupants. The people in the car allegedly shot at the cyclists and robbed them of their bicycles. The brother-in-law was struck by a bullet and died at the scene, police spokesperson Mavela Masondo said.

Robinson said many cyclists are giving up cycling because of the dangers.

“We need to create safer environments for them."

He advises cyclists to ride in numbers and make sure they ride on well-known roads that are not historically dangerous and at different times.

The Pedal Power Association advised riders to exercise "situational 360º awareness", pay attention to any human activities ahead and not to wear earphones when cycling or chat to fellow cyclists as it could distract from potential dangers ahead. Cyclists are also urged to avoid areas with lots of bushes and long grass as the attackers hide there before launching an attack.

Cycling South Africa spokesperson Cherise Willeit said: “We ask people to try to ride in big groups. We know it is not a given but it is safer.

"We recommend people get in touch with their local clubs and start organising rides together. In Gauteng, we are trying to motivate clubs to come together and have big groups every day that people can join with following vehicles,” she said.

She has advised clubs to stop posting their routes on social media.

“We also ask clubs to not make public on social media the routes they are going to ride. We ask that they do not do that because it can make them an easy target [for criminals] to know where to wait for riders.”


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