Cyclists are the latest road users to be targeted by the recent spike in criminal activities in South Africa, with several incidents having been reported in the last few weeks.
According to Neil Robinson, the CEO of The Pedal Power Association (PPA), criminals are using violent methods to target cyclists with the intention of stealing their bikes and other personal belongings, and many of these attempts have proved fatal.
Most of the recent attacks have been reported in Gauteng, however, the association has noted an increase in attacks on cyclists in other provinces including the Free State, Eastern Cape, and Western Cape.
What to be aware of
The most common tactic that criminals use to prey on the country’s cyclists is to lie in wait for them to come along a specific route, either on the road or on a dirt trail, and ambush them.
While the risk of this happening is heightened when the cyclist is alone, South Africa’s thieves have also started to target stragglers in larger groups.
“These syndicates have a very sophisticated network of routes that they patrol, and any cyclist taking these routes is vulnerable, and this is becoming a big problem for us,” Robinson added.
The other method that criminals frequently use is to pull in front of a biker with a vehicle – often a taxi – and have two or three people jump out and rob the victim when they stop.
Bicycles, particularly mountain bikes, are a popular target for criminal syndicates right now as they have a high value and are typically either smuggled across the border or pawned to second-hand shops.
One concern that the PPA notes is that many of these incidents are not reported to the South African Police Service (SAPS), yet there have been growing reports of bike jackings in several provinces.
The new warning about cyclists being a target for criminals in South Africa comes after a string of recent attacks in Gauteng in Pretoria East, Johannesburg North, Centurion, and Midrand.
One attack resulted in a man getting stabbed and having his bike stolen while travelling in a group of 12 between the R21 and M18.
Another cyclist was attacked on Main Road in Irene while crossing a river, and another was shot and killed while riding between mealie fields near the R25 – a route that is popular within the local cycling community.
Robinson attributes the recent spike in both the frequency and violent nature of the incidents to criminal desperation as a result of the ongoing cost-of-living crisis.
Keyword: These road users being targeted by criminals in South Africa more than ever