Christina was walking home from work last week when she noticed the three men in Hout Bay’s Main Road.
“I could feel they were watching me because I crossed the street twice to check, and every time they were looking at me. They kept their distance, but they were changing their spots.”
Soon afterwards, the men closed in and cornered her. They ripped her blouse open to get her day’s earnings, and they also took her cellphone and a set of keys, she says.
“They kept asking me if I want to see my children again and whether I still want to remain alive.”
The Imizamo Yethu mother of three doesn’t want her surname published as she fears for her safety. It was her first time being robbed but not the first time she has seen others falling prey to muggers in Main Road, she says.
“It happens very often,” she says. “There are lots of people walking on foot down here, especially people coming from work, and now there are those who know they are coming home with a day’s pay.”
Asked if she reported her robbery to the police, she says: “What is the point? I will have to run to the station every time to follow up on this case. I have to work and feed my children, I don’t have time for police to mess me around, like they do with everyone here.”
Hout Bay Community Police Forum chairman Anthony Chemaly says that while the number of official cases is low, the CPF has heard “a lot of noise” about muggings in Main Road. “It most definitely is a concern, and there are plans to combat this.”
The Hout Bay Neighbourhood Watch plans to improve the “CCTV cameras and analytics” in Hout Bay Main Road, he says.
Neighbourhood watches received a boost last year when the City said it would add R500 000 to its R2.7 million budget for some 228 accredited watches. The money is used mostly for equipment and support services (“Neighbourhood watches get a boost,” Sentinel News, September 17, 2021).
Hout Bay Neighbourhood Watch chairwoman Liezl Schulte says they are looking into how much it will cost to install more CCTV cameras in Main Road.
“We are looking into and have costed options to increase coverage in this area. We are very disturbed by the increase in mugging and robberies in this area.”
B&B owners have also been advised to tell their guests not to walk along Main Road, she says.
An Airbnb owner, Ryan Dominic, says he is already advising guests to use taxis to get around Hout Bay instead of walking.
“We cannot stop people from exploring because that is why they come to places such as these. If they wanted to stay indoors, they could have stayed home.”
He has only had one guest return from a night out claiming to have been robbed in Main Road, but he has heard many other stories, he says.
“People get mugged and robbed in the road all the time. It’s a difficult situation to monitor as there are so many pathways or let’s just say ’escape routes’ on the main road. I do believe police are doing their best, but it’s a tough one.”
Despite repeated attempts, Sentinel News was unable to get comment from the Hout Bay police station by time of publication.