Re-posted: June 2019
Within 20 minutes of arrival in Cape Town, I was attacked by two guys with knives. Too scared to venture out, a crap ending to my Cairo to Cape Town journey.
Story from May 2016.
I made a joke of the the idea, 'wouldn't it be ironic to have travelled the length of Africa unscathed, only to be nobbled in Cape Town'.
But that's exactly what happened. I'd pushed my luck a little too far. I had arrived at the bus terminal at 7.15pm. surely the streets would still be busy, it wasn't Jo'berg after all. I started walking. It was only 2km.
I should have taken a cab!
And why didn't I take a cab? Well, I consider myself pretty street wise. I am not wearing flashy stuff, not walking with my (non existent) cell phone in front of me, I don't look lost, jeez, I have been doing this for 24 years.
What ever my reasoning for not taking a cab it proves that these points stand for shit. South Africa has a different book.
I'd studied the map, memorised the routing, as I always do. On to Riebeek Street which would then become Main Road all I had to do was keep on going straight.
I crossed to the side with more light, then suddenly the street was empty, 2 guys coming towards me. They went to the right, I thought to let me pass, so I went to the left, they went to the left, I went to the right, 1 carried on straight, the other to the right, 2 meters from me, the knife flicked open.
Violent crime in South Africa is a common occurrence.
Cape Town ain't like Jo'berg. That's where the mistakes are made by the media. They falsely advertise it. Safer does not mean safe. I heard that in South America that lowlifes will stab you and then rob you. Here, at least for the time being, they ask first. When will it become like across the water? When will they just shoot you cos they need a smoke? Sooner rather than later I expect.
'Give me your phone!'
'I don't have a phone'
I was pushed back, fell into the bushes, hands patted me down.
'Where's your phone?'
'I don't have.'
'Give me the bag!'
Panic ran thru my head....My tablet, my photos, my stories.
My writings are stored on email.. my photos on a hard drive in my big bag. Not the end of the world but sure as hell annoying. My passport, credit cards and my last 100$ are in a security wallet underneath my clothes. Everything is replaceable. A life is not.
I had my day pack on my front, the backpack on my back, straps over the day pack strap. With me on top of the backpack, on the ground, the day pack can not be torn free. They struggled with my bag. They could not pull it away.
'Let me get up', I said...stupid thing to say, but it's what came out of my mouth. At that point I was gonna give up my bag, but they did not know I had to get the big bag off first, still they pulled. A 3rd guy arrived... to help, or a mate of theirs? It seemed they had given up. Was the third guy my savoir? or was it just taking them too long? I started to scramble or was I pulled away by this mysterious 3rd guy? In the struggle I fell out onto the road screaming for help and suddenly all 3 guys were gone. Cars flashed past, I tried to get up.
Something did not feel right. Had I been stabbed? Yet I felt no pain. I fell again. I waved down a car. No one of course was gonna stop. I knew that, but I was pretty desperate. The day bag was pulled round to my back, I was top heavy, and my legs were shaking, that's why I could not stand up. I pulled my bags straight.
I had a split lip, I wiped my hands across my face, no more blood. If I had been stabbed it would be hurting right? Any knife wound would be stinging at least, if a guy with no mercy had of stabbed me I would definitely have known about it. Wouldn't I?
I got up and forced myself to walk again. I saw 2 whites, I leaned against the wall. They were wary. I just got mugged I told them. 'Where can i get a taxi?' I asked. They were unhelpful.. probably afraid for themselves.
No taxis, it was not a place to linger... FUCK!!!....
I walked in the road, cars blasting me with their horn. I turned... saw the taxi sign on the roof of an approaching car, I flagged it down for all I was worth, and it stopped...
It's the next morning as I write this narrative. My flight is 10 days away. Gone is the desire to go to Stellenbosch, Gone is the desire to go and see Table Mountain. If it wasn't for the fact that changing my flight would cost me 250 US fucking Dollars I would have been at the airport that same night.
I've been no further than the Spar supermarket which is literally next door. Just going into the street, took will power. But I have to venture out, I have to face what happened. I know I must, but I really don't want to.
But I did. The afternoon after the night before I headed out. I retraced my steps to the point of the attack. I saw how bad it was. Building on one side, waist high bushes the other. They had probably been waiting, waiting for any one. It was the perfect choke point. Wrong place at the wrong time. Stupidity on my part. Desperate hatred on their part. I was vulnerable, carrying 2 bags and they attacked. But who was that 3rd guy?
I was told the SOUTH AFRICA is a wonderful country. After 1 month I could not disagree more.
As soon as I crossed from Zimbabwe, I felt tension in the air and the racial divide. Carjackings and robberies at knife point are a common occurrence. There is more razor wire here than an Israeli roadblock.
Uninviting is a word I'd use to describe South Africa and I will be glad to get the fuck out.
I changed hostels to a nicer area but there is fear in the air.
In the last 7 days in Africa I did not venture out much. Once to Table Mountain. I went with another traveller. And once alone to Lions Head where at the start of the walk, teamed up with another hiker.
I enjoyed my time reading and doing shit. Other than those two excursions I only went as far as the Spar supermarket, twice a day.
Every time I went out I hated it. I felt safer in Sierra Leone and looking back, the mental pressure, as crazy as it was there, was far less and having started re working my whole website as I have no desire to go and explore, I have re read my West Africa stories. I used to even walked at night in Bissau, capital of Guinea, as late as 9pm, regularly.
Yes there are many people who come here and nothing happens. Most of the backpackers take the door to door services of the incredibly expensive ***-Bus, they use some taxi app called U*** and they have said how wonderful Cape Town is but for me, I still won't be convinced.
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Travelling the world solo, since 1992, as a low budget backpacker.