Nick Bester's family living in fear as running legend moved out of ICU

31 August 2020 - 16:55
By nonkululeko njilo AND Nonkululeko Njilo
Nick Bester, bloodied and bruised after being attacked while training on Sunday. He has been moved from ICU to a high-care unit, his son Shaun-Nick said on Monday.
Image: Shaun-Nick Instagram Nick Bester, bloodied and bruised after being attacked while training on Sunday. He has been moved from ICU to a high-care unit, his son Shaun-Nick said on Monday.

Former Comrades Marathon winner and running coach Nick Bester, who was severely injured during an attack at the weekend, has been discharged from ICU at the Eugene Marais Hospital in Pretoria.

This is according to his son Shaun-Nick, who said he wasn't exactly sure of his dad's condition because he had not seen or spoken to him due to Covid-19 restrictions.

“The only thing we’re aware of at the moment is that he was discharged from ICU and moved to the high-care cardiac unit,” he said on Monday.

Bester was attacked at the weekend, allegedly by three men. He sustained broken ribs and cheekbones. He was robbed of his gun and bicycle, according to Shaun-Nick.

The incident occurred just 4km from Bester's home.

During the ordeal he was stripped and assaulted, and had his hands bound behind his back. He escaped down a mountain by sliding on his back until he reached someone's house and got help.

The incident has left the family traumatised.

“It’s horrible. We’re all struggling to deal with it. My mother was shocked and could not even think properly hours after it had happened,” said Shaun-Nick.

Shaun-Nick, who is also an outdoor sportsman, said he now feared for his life.

“It makes me reluctant to go out there,” he said.

While the family tried to make sense of the ordeal, Shaun-Nick said they suspected his father was being followed and his attackers had an idea of his routine. It was not the first time Bester has been attacked and robbed. He was robbed of his bicycle 10 years ago, about 2km from his house.

The organisers of the BrightRock Battle of the Sports condemned the attack on Bester, who they said was one of their sporting heroes.

“We are absolutely shocked by the news of this assault and the sheer unnecessary brutality of the attack,” said BrightRock deputy CEO Suzanne Stevens.

“We are in constant contact with his team manager Bruce Fordyce and are awaiting further updates on the severity of his injuries. The ... team is fully behind him and wishes him a full recovery.”

'Big increase' in attacks

The Pedal Power Association, the largest recreational cycling organisation in the country, described the attack on Bester as gruesome, saying its members had reported a number of similar incidents in recent months.

“We’ve seen the attacks on cyclists in Cape Town, especially in areas around [the] southern suburbs. There’s been a big increase, not only of being robbed of cellphones, but it appears to be knowledge out there that bicycles are also worth money,” said chair Steve Hayward.

He said cyclists had become easy targets, and they have since been urged to cycle in groups.

“All we can recommend to people is to ride in groups, never alone and not in the dark. They [attackers] hide behind the bushes — you can’t see them at all — and they attack vulnerable people. It’s very seldom that they attack people in large groups,” said Hayward.

While the attacks seemed to be common before the lockdown, Hayward said these had increased in recent months.

Asked what measures people could take, Hayward said it was possible to be safe.

“People must rather cycle on pathways or areas where there’s a lot of traffic, pedestrian or motor traffic, because most of these incidents occur in areas where there is not so much human activity. We also plead with people to move around in groups,” he said. “People must not give up running and cycling purely because of this. We cannot be suppressed into not taking part in healthy lifestyles. People must just take precautions.”