Mike Howard is a
Canadian citizen American citizen residing in Canada, currently in Cape Town. A musician from Montreal, Howard travelled to South Africa to “record an album, and then climb up Table Mountain.” Yesterday morning, Howard published an account of a robbery and subsequent assault he allegedly suffered in the vicinity of Loop Street on 20 October this year on the popular crowdfunding website, GoFundMe. Howard is attempting to raise $3,000 via his GoFundMe page in order to purchase a return flight to Canada, and to take legal action against the management of 179 on Loop and the Central City Improvement District (CCID) in Cape Town.
Having touched down and cleared South African immigration on 17 September of this year, Howard set up base at the home of a business associate with whom he was recording the album.
After three weeks of work, he moved out of his De Waterkant lodgings, taking accommodation in the attractively cheap 179 on Loop Hostel. On the night of Sunday 20 October, Howard was pick pocketed of $3,000 in cash at what he calls a “Nigerian bar” a few hundred metres from the hostel where he was staying. On the morning of Monday 21 October, Howard checked out in a hurry. What happened between those two points in time must be one of the strangest stories to have ever come out of 179 Loop Street, which played host to the headquarters of Lolly Jackson’s Teazer’s empire in the Cape.
2oceansvibe caught up with Howard yesterday afternoon via Skype to clarify a few details in his story.
On the morning of Sunday 20 October, Howard took possession of a $3,000 Western Union wire transfer from a friend in Canada. Having been warned of credit card fraud in South Africa, Howard had elected to stick to cash for the duration of the trip. Howard kept the cash on his person for the duration of his stay at 179 on Loop, fearing potential theft from within his room.
Four of the Western Union agents in and around the V&A Waterfront confirmed that they were open on Sundays, and that a transfer of $3,000 would neither exceed any limit, nor be subject to any special permissions. None of the agents we spoke to were willing to advise whether or not anyone by the name of Mike Howard had received a wire transfer over their desk on that date.
That night, Mike wandered out of his hostel for a drink in the neighbourhood. This is where things become hard to corroborate.
After meeting a “Nigerian guy” in a street perpendicular to Long and Loop Streets, Howard drank with the man in a nearby bar for around 90 minutes. “Eventually I guess he saw me taking my money out to pay for my drinks, and that’s when he pick-pocketed me.”
Howard’s would-be friend and possible thief left his company. Soon after, Howard discovered that he had been robbed, and pursued the man. With the help of an unidentified employee of the bar, Howard tracked the man down to a nearby establishment. (Note: Howard described an establishment with a phonetically similar name to nearby Chez Ntemba nightclub, but could not confirm the name.)
Howard confronted the man, and alerted two nearby CCID guards that he had been robbed. He identified his alleged robber, and asked the CCID to call the police. Howard claims that the CCID guards became uncooperative when they laid eyes on the man accused of robbing Howard.
“They kept looking over at the guy, and they kept making eye contact. They knew who he was.”
Howard claims that two policemen did arrive on scene at least 45 minutes after he asked the CCID to call them, but they refused to help him lay a charge of theft, and soon left the scene without questioning the man Howard alleged to be his robber.
Howard says that at this point, he grew exasperated.
“I said, ‘I know why you won’t help me. It’s because you know that guy.’ I said that out loud, and that scared the shit out of them.”
“Then the mood changed entirely.”
Sensing danger, he made to walk back to his hostel. Pursued by CCID guards and two non-uniformed but armed men, Howard evaded his chasers by accessing 179 on Loop with fingerprint ID, and hiding in the first-floor bathroom.
“They were either trying to scare the shit out of me, because they knew that I knew, or they were trying to beat me up.”
Howard claims that he hid in the bathroom for five hours, until daybreak. Howards account of this time is vague, which he puts down to his feeling of intense panick. He says that during the time that he was hiding in the bathroom, the CCID guards and the non-uniformed assailants attempted to gas him with the cooperation of the 179 on Loop management.
“They turned off all the lights, and then they gassed me. Gas was coming into the room, and through the faucet.”
When questioned whether he saw gas filtering into the bathroom, Howard said that he did not see any gas filtering into the bathroom, but knew he was suffering gas poisoning owing to lightheadedness, shortness of breath, and a metallic taste in his mouth.
Howard claims that he heard a female voice outside the bathroom exclaim, “That’s enough! You’re killing him!” After a number of hours, Howard’s assailants are alleged to have dissipated.
We saw the bathroom in which Howard hid, and noted a sizeable gap between the lintel of the bathroom door and ceiling, which would have made entrance into the bathroom significantly easy for any would-be assailant.
After emerging from the bathroom the following morning, Howard claims that he heard 179 on Loop employees planning to “pick him off” from the room next door to his.
Howard claims that a couple staying at the hostel at the same time would be able to corroborate his claim that 179 on Loop staff members were threatening to harm him. Howard claims that the male in the couple verbally confronted an unidentified 179 on Loop employee after overhearing the threats. Howard adds that while he did not see the confrontation, he was party to the threat and the confrontation owing to the “paper thin” walls of the hostel.
Howard provided us with an email address for t
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