Die Burger Mountain Bike Challenge didn’t go exactly as planned for 49-year-old Bonita Meiring after she was robbed of her bike during the race itself.
Meiring was threatened with a long knife during the Stellenbosch mountain bike race, something that race organisers say is a first in the event’s 10-year history.
Here is Bonita recounting the incident to News24:
[She] was riding the 50km route on Sunday morning when a young man confronted her in a bushy, somewhat isolated area.
“I continued on and this guy came walking from up front. I thought he was a farm worker and we greeted. He eyed my bike and continued walking,” she said.
“I then heard a commotion behind me. He shoved me from behind on my back and shouted ‘Gee die bike jou naai’ [give the bike, you fuck].”
Meiring was knocked onto the ground. She got up and turned to get her bike.
She said the man, in his 20s, stared at her and raised a 30cm knife shaped somewhat like a sword, [not a panga] daring her to come closer.
“Adrenaline kicked in and I ran along the path shouting for help. I couldn’t see anybody and I just saw bush. Eventually I saw the marshal at the end of the path.”
Her assailant made off with her bicycle and cellphone.
When she described the man to a race marshal she was told that the man had already tried to mug two people that same morning. Quite how he was allowed to continue to terrorise riders after those initial attacks is beyond me, but here’s organiser Meurant Botha:
“It is tremendously frustrating that many months of planning and a stressful week of setup has to be tainted by an incident of this nature,” he said.
“As an immediate measure, we have decided to find an alternative venue for a large, 1 500-rider event we are hosting in the same area in September”…
Botha felt they were unable to rely on the police because they received no response when phoning them.
Hiring armed response for future events was a possibility, but might not be feasible because ticket prices would sky-rocket, he said. He also questioned how many armed response guards would be needed to effectively cover such large areas.
It really is a sad day when you have to cycle in fear during a mountain bike race. I’m not sure what the solution is but organisers best get cracking, stories like these tend to get people very worked up.
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