I was robbed
on day 3
(Bike tour in africa)
Leaving cape town
As I wrote in my last post, I was a little nervous moments before leaving Cape Town and that’s not normally how I feel before embarking on a new adventure.
Normally I can’t wait to get out there.
But something was making me nervous before setting out from Cape Town. Maybe because I’d never attempted an adventure of this magnitude or maybe it was all the warnings I heard from the locals and what I saw on Television.
Most people do normally warn you of the dangers before heading out anywhere so this wasn’t out of the ordinary.
Nevertheless, as I was leaving Cape Town, the owner of the Guesthouse I was staying at helped me pick a route out of the City that would avoid most of the shacks of people living in the slums where it is most dangerous.
There are over 5 million people that live in Shacks all over South Africa.
Anyway, the first day was great!
I had multiple cars stop to see if I needed anything including water, a lift or a place to stay.
Everyone I met was extremely nice and helpful.
I rode through the wine regions of Durbanville and made my way through the beautiful countryside until I made camp at a camp ground and stayed for 2 nights.
I was feeling a lot better about the whole idea of cycling through South Africa after a great first day.
What exactly happened (day 3)
I set off from the camp ground at around 8.30am and followed the directions given to me by one of the locals.
The advice that I keep receiving is to stay on the highways where there is lots of traffic and plenty of people. You don’t want to go down the quieter roads because that’s when you can easily be ambushed and robbed.
So I followed the highway leaving Paarl towards Wellington. It isn’t that fun riding along the highways but I wanted to be safe and follow the advice I was given.
After about an hour and a half of riding I was pulling up to a set of traffic lights for only about 3 seconds and someone ran from behind me, ripped my phone from my Quadlock mount, jumped the fence and ran into the shacks.
My initial reaction was that it was some kind of joke. There were around 50 people standing around watching.
As he slowly jogged away from me, pulling up his pants every few metres and looking back at me, I realised it wasn’t a joke.
I started yelling “Come on mate, give me my phone back.”
He stopped for a second, looked back at me, smiled and disappeared behind the rusty old roofing that made up the walls of the shacks.
It’s almost like he was trying to bate me into following him into the shacks he was going that slow. (I’m sorry I don’t know the correct word for this in South Africa.)
I looked at the people around me and some of them told me to run after the guy to get my phone back.
I realised pretty quickly that this wouldn’t be a good idea. Suddenly I felt a little unsafe as bystanders started looking at other parts of my bike and potential things they could grab.
Luckily, there was a cop car 10m away on the other side of the road.
the local police
The moment my phone was taken, I knew there was no chance I was getting it back.
I made my way over to the police car and told them what happened.
They asked a couple questions such as “What type of phone was it?” and “What was the person wearing?”
They heard what I had to say, looked at me and said “Ride to the Garage!” and drove off in the opposite direction. It was clear from the beginning that they had absolutely no intention of helping me.
As the police drove off far away from my phone and the culprit, a women told me that if I was to go into the shacks, for sure my bike and everything on it would be stolen and I would most likely be killed.
When she said that, I didn’t feel as calm anymore and looked around at more people approaching me from the other side of the road.
I basically rode as quickly as I could away from the shacks along the highway.
After 5km or so, I made my way into the town of Wellington, where things seemed a bit calmer.
I asked someone where the police station was and rode directly there.
the police station
Once I got to the police station I was pretty happy to sit down on the ground outside and wait to be helped.
Although as I was waiting, the police brought someone in the back of the police car. The guy said something about my bike in Afrikan and sat on the ground and the policeman started kicking him quite violently as another laughed.
I guess I’m a long way from Australia now!
The police were definitely a lot more friendly to me here. They informed me that the policemen I was dealing with at the scene of the robbery were from a different department and were useless.
I waited for about an hour and eventually a policewomen came to handwrite my statement.
The policewoman told me that even she speeds through the traffic lights and doesn’t stop when driving the police car through that area as she’s a target driving as a solo female.
She then offered to sell me her phone at “A really good price.”
I then informed her that my phone has tracking and that if I get on my computer, I can tell her exactly where it is.
She explained that “It doesn’t work like that in South Africa. Even if you know where your stolen phone is, you will have to wait for months and go to court several times in order to give the police permission to look for your phone.”
I was told to wait to receive my typed up statement and case number so that I could potentially claim it on travel insurance.
I waited for about an hour and was told that they wouldn’t be able to do it at the moment because of the power cuts.
The police then brought me to an expensive guest house that I can’t really afford but paid for anyway.
I just really wanted to get on my computer so that I could do my best to cancel some of the accounts that were still open on my phone.
I was following maps and listening to a podcast when my phone was stolen so it was unlocked and could easily have access to my Google account and Bank accounts.
I managed to get on my computer at the Guest house and lock myself out of my Google account so have been unable to logout of my Google Account on the phone remotely.
I have been able to find exactly where the phone is though.
Useless I guess as the police won’t go there and I definitely won’t go there by myself.
I went back to the police station several hours later and they still haven’t started typing up my statement.
It’s Sunday and all of the phone shops are closed so I’m unable to buy and setup a new phone.
I guess being this reliant on my phone for maps and everything else has been a bit of an eye opener that I should probably carry a spare somewhere with some backup maps.
I’ve lost most of the videos and photos from the first couple days of my ride unfortunately but still in high spirits.
I’ll probably have to stay in town again tomorrow so I can buy and setup a new phone but will have to find somewhere cheaper to stay.
I feel pretty lucky, that’s only the second time I’ve ever been robbed after more than 12 years of travel and the other time was by a monkey in Bali.
Let the adventure continue…