Two more Bonza Bay beach knife muggings

Women robbed within hours of each other while using the beach to run, walk dogs


Pristine Bonza Bay beach, one of East London’s mugging hot spots, claimed yet more victims this week when two women were attacked.
The latest attacks – on former Hudson Park and Rhodes University student Katie Berlyn Holmes, 35, and another resident on Tuesday have raised serious questions about how the muggings will be stamped out.
Pressed for comment, police spokesperson Captain Hazel Mqala told the Dispatch that Beacon Bay police already had strategic patrols in Bonza Bay alongside the Beacon Bay Community Patrol Association (CPA) and security companies.
But she gave assurances that Beacon Bay police would be meeting these agencies to plot the way forward as a result of the spike in beach muggings.
The muggings of the two women on Tuesday, only hours apart, occurred less than a week after East London photographer Dionne Vorster was robbed at Bonza Bay during a photo shoot.
Beacon Bay Bay Ratepayers' and Civic Association chairman Malcolm Symons is deeply concerned about the rash of attacks, which began escalating in 2018.
Holmes, an art teacher, arrived in East London on Sunday from the UK, where she has been living with husband Thomas for the past 13 years.
A keen runner and open water swimmer, she is currently in training for a half marathon in London in May and a swim across Lake Geneva in July.
She was running along the beach closer to Bonza Bay beach than the Nahoon River side at about 10.30am, feeling that it would be safe to do since the beach is popular among people walking their dogs.
“There weren’t any other people around me when I saw this guy from afar, but I didn’t want to think the worst.
“He then came down a sand dune and sat down. I actually greeted him in Xhosa, and he greeted back,” Holmes said, adding that the man appeared to be in his early 20s and was wearing a T-shirt.
“The guy then approached me. At first he seemed friendly. He actually started trying to run alongside me, but I was trying to keep it friendly. Then he told me he wanted my shoes and my watch, and took out a knife which was about 25cm long.”
Holmes handed over the items without hesitation, before the man fled.
“I gave him my Asics running shoes and a Garmin watch, which are worth about R7,000.”
Holmes admitted to ignoring the warnings of her husband and a friend, who told her it was dangerous to run alone on Bonza Bay beach.
“Maybe I had a false sense of security that it wouldn’t happen to me. It’s the first time something like this happened. Maybe I should have run into the sea, but that might have made him more aggressive.
“I am still in a bit of shock, but I consider myself very lucky not to have been harmed.”
Holmes reported the attack to Beacon Bay police but did not feel there was any point opening a case as she would be leaving the country again in two weeks.
Only hours earlier on Tuesday, another woman, who asked not to be identified, was walking her two Yorkshire terriers at 7.20am when she encountered a man sitting on steps near the Bonza Bay beach at the end of the path alongside Quenera river.
“I said ‘good morning’, and he said ‘good morning’. I think my dogs had more of a sense of something being wrong, because one of them started growling at him, getting very angry,” the woman said.
“I carried on walking to the section of rocks between Bonza Bay and Nahoon. Along the way, I met a very pretty lady who is always running with her big dog on the beach, who warned me there were two chaps ahead who seemed friendly, but I should be careful.”
The runner then went on, and she watched her pass the man she had seen on the steps who was now heading in her direction. “I was playing with the dogs in the water, and he started coming closer to us.
“At first he pretended he was going to walk past, and then he turned around again. My other dog then started growling at him, but he came towards me with a big knife which was a silvery colour.”
Asked whether she estimated it to be 25cm in length, the woman agreed that it was.
“The guy then rushed towards me, and pulled at the little bag I had with me. I keep things like doggy treats and things to clean up the dogs’ poo in it. When he pulled, I fell backwards into the water.
“He also asked where my money was, and I told him that I would never take money to the beach. Then he came up behind me and stuck his hand in my jacket pocket, obviously looking for money. I had a chain around my neck, so he took that but it was already broken. At that point he ran away.”
The woman reported the attack to the SAPS flying squad.
Last Wednesday, photographer Vorster was shooting a family of five close to the Bonza Bay Beach lifesavers shack when a young man appeared from the sand dunes, pointing a knife at them.
The assailant ran off with R120,000 worth of camera equipment towards the Gonubie side of the beach.
In September 2018, Bonza Bay beach was the scene of two violent muggings in under a week.
A man had been walking on the beach between Blue Bend and Bonza Bay when he was stabbed in both arms.
A 16-year-old girl was mugged at knife-point on the same stretch of beach a week earlier.
Symons said Bonza Bay beach had changed so much in respect of criminal activity in the past few years.
“People still walk their dogs there every day, but we have warned them that it is no longer safe. The crime situation is of great concern to us,” he said.
Mqala confirmed Beacon Bay police had received a report from Holmes, but she had decided not to open a case...

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