Three people have been arrested in connection with the killing of a Ukrainian hiker on the East Fort trail on Saturday, July 27.
Ivan Ivanov, 44, was stabbed multiple times in the chest and his bag was stolen.
He bled to death metres away from the parking area in Chapman’s Peak Drive.
Police spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel André Traut said 23-year-old Sinaye Mposelwa was arrested soon after the incident had taken place.
According to reports, the suspect had confessed to the murder of Mr Ivanov and even showed police where they could locate his body on the trail.
Mr Mposelwa was arrested after he was found in possession of the stolen bag.
He appeared in the Wynberg Magistrate’s Court on Monday July 29 where it was discovered that he had been out on parole.
A second suspect was arrested after extensive investigations by police.
Sergeant Noloyiso Rwexana said a 24-year-old man was arrested at the Hout Bay harbour in the early hours of Wednesday morning and is due to appear in the Wynberg Magistrate’s Court today, Friday August 2.
Sergeant Rwexana confirmed that the third suspect, a 27-year-old, was arrested on Wednesday afternoon is expected to make a court appearance on Friday.
The news of the hiker’s death spread like wildfire, with several messages of condolences and support being sent to the family.
Another avid user of the trail and Hout Bay resident, Richard Johnson, said the news came as a “huge shock” as earlier that morning, he had passed the area with his two sons.
“I could not even tell my sons at the time. It’s a beautiful hiking trail that now has blood on it. The blood of an innocent man who only wanted to take in the beauty of the area. For what? A bag?”
Mr Johnson said the trail has never been regarded as unsafe.
“I think for people who use the trail regularly and know the area, it does come as a shock because this is a very popular destination for hikers. This was a very opportunistic crime that took place and for Mr Ivanov, a case of wrong place, wrong time,” he said, adding: “My heart goes out to his family.”
Another hiker, who wished to remain anonymous, looked on as police combed through the area for clues and said: “That could have been any one of us.”
“It’s actually quite scary. Both my parents are hikers as well and at their age, they would not have stood a chance. One does not want to create panic and start labelling this trail as a hotspot, because it’s not true. But an incident of this nature does open your eyes a bit more.”
The hiker had also been on the trail on the morning of the incident, but spotted nothing suspicious and was disturbed to find the area cordoned off by police and a blood stained body.
“We heard nothing and saw nothing. I guess that explained our shock on the way down,” the hiker said.
Bronwyn Moore from Non-Profit Company Community Cohesion was left with the difficult task of contacting Mr Ivanov’s wife to deliver the sad news.
“I apologised that her husband was murdered while visiting our country. I feel I owe it to the victim’s family. Crime in our country is being normalised, and it never, ever should be.”
Mr Ivanov’s sister-in-law, Dina Ivanova,said the family was struggling to come to terms with the loss.
“Ivan was a wonderful person with a very good and kind heart. He was a loving husband to my twin sister and a great father to his three children.”
She said Mr Ivanov was a hard working professional, being one of the few people in the world specialising in agricultural inspection. He had three university degrees, started as a sailor and finished in the marine academy. He then went on to complete a degree in economics, followed by a degree in law in the UK.
“He fluently spoke four languages and was always looking to learn new languages. Ivan loved military history and always loved reading books,” she said.
She commended the community for their rapid response in arresting the first suspect, saying: “I would like to say thank you to the community for helping to find the criminals who took his life. And thank you for your prayers and commemorating his memory.”
A ceremony was held at East Fort on Sunday July 28, to commemorate the life of Mr Ivanov in the place where he took his last breath.
Among the crowd was a shocked ward councillor, Roberto Quintas, who laid down flowers and shared a few words.
“Barbaric, unjustifiable and selfish” is how Mr Quintas summed up the incident.
“The assailants has robbed not only a man of his possessions but his life, it has robbed a family of a father and husband and also, has the potential to further rob the communities of Hout Bay from much needed and most vital job creating revenue of which visitors and the tourism industry are the lifeblood,” he said.
Flowers were laid by the community and a prayer was offered by the clergy of St Peter’s Anglican Church.
“As a community, we cannot afford to have violent and dangerous thugs jeopardise the livelihoods of the many businesses and their employees who depend on the interest and desire for visitors to enjoy our unparalleled natural beauty,” Mr Quintas said.
He encouraged the community present to become involved in the fight against “wanton criminality that darkens the name and reputation of this idyllic corner of the peninsula”.
Mr Ivanov leaves behind his wife Tine, and three children, Glen, 20, Taisa, 11, and Makar, 2.
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