Hikers targeted in ‘freak’ attack

A group of hikers were fortunate to escape from a “crazed” attacker near the Sentinel Mountain this week.

Well-known Hout Bay resident and hiker Garth Loots was with a group of four friends at midday on Monday October 23 when a knife-wielding man appeared. “We were taking photos of the surfers at Dungeons on the western side of the Sentinel when we were confronted by the man. There were five of us – three guys and two girls – but we were very spread out as some of us were still taking photos of the surfers,” Mr Loots said.

“It was the kind of terrain where you had to walk single file, and then the man appeared. He was acting crazy, talking himself into paranoia. He appeared angry and violent, but also very scared.”

The man first wanted money from the group, then their food, before he turned his attention to their cameras and cellphones.

“He told us that if we moved, he would stab us. This went on for between 15 and 20 minutes. If we did move, he would lash out with his knife. At one point he picked up a rock and threw it at one of our guys, causing him to fall about two metres down the mountain.

“For about 25, 30 minutes we tried to talk him down. I asked him what we could do to end this. But I could see he didn’t like one of our friends, and he threatened to stab him in the face and kill him.”

Mr Loots was carrying R300, and said the man could have the money if he went away. “I threw the money on the ground and he took it, but he did not leave immediately. That was when I told him that if he didn’t leave, we would come after him.”

The friends then noticed two other men at the bottom of the mountain, but were not sure if they were with the assailant. “That was when we decided to come down on the more dangerous side of the mountain.”

Once the hiking party reached safety, he learnt that the man had recently been released from prison and was known to people in the Hangberg community. “I hike almost every day, but this was a freak kind of situation. It certainly doesn’t reflect on the community.

“But I think it is important to speak out. For me, the right thing to do is not to fight back in such a situation. I also advise that people shouldn’t carry a lot of stuff with them, as was the case with us.”

Mr Loots said it was important to take something along that could be used as a bargaining chip, such as cash. “If it means it will save your life, then hand it over.

“Maybe it was because we were caught off guard, but none of us could remember the number for Mountain Rescue when this happened. So that’s something to always have with you.”

Hout Bay police spokesperson Warrant Officer Tanya Lesch said no arrests had been made.