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Cape Town - Malcolm Fox waited for the shot.
“I know it’s a cliché,” the 36-year-old father of two told the Cape Times on Wednesday, “but in that moment I wondered if I was about to become another statistic; if my two boys would grow up without a father.”
Fox, a victim of a bike-jacking on Saturday, captured the dramatic 59-second sequence of the armed robbery on his GoPro, which was mounted on his helmet.
Police confirmed on Wednesday that the footage led to the arrest of three suspects.
The recording shows Fox riding his bike across railway lines at Ongegund in Somerset West. It was the last kilometre of his ride when a gunman in a woollen hat ran towards him.
Fox stopped riding and dismounted. A silhouette of the rider showed him lifting his hands in surrender.
“Gimme your cellphone,” the gunman ordered, walking towards Fox and cocking his gun.
He grabbed Fox’s sunglasses and a pouch, containing his cellphone and keys, hanging around his neck. Fox didn’t resist.
“What else have you got? What else have you got?”
A second suspect in a cap approached and took the bike, and a third assailant, armed with a knife, frisked Fox.
The gunman peered into the camera. “He didn’t know what it was,” said Fox, “but the footage is so clear I’d hate to think he will get away with it.”
Western Cape police spokes-man Lieutenant Colonel André Traut said the footage led them to the three suspects – all aged 22. “The first suspect was arrested on Sunday at his residence in Sir Lowry’s Pass and a Luger firearm was seized. The same day another suspect was arrested, also in Sir Lowry’s Pass. The third suspect was arrested on Monday.”
The stolen cellphone and mountain bike were recovered.
The suspects appeared in court on Tuesday and will remain in custody until they return to court later this month.
Fox, a project manager at Virgin Active’s head office in Claremont, had left Ongegund vineyard an hour and a half earlier to ride the yellow 17km route. It was windy and he was riding alone.
He missed the signage and “found myself in an area where you probably don’t want to be”.
According to Johan Kriegler, the trail co-ordinator, Fox missed the sign and wandered about 400m to 800m off the trail.
“He’s the first person I’ve heard of who missed the sign. In the last two years two other cyclists have had their bikes stolen but this is the first incident where a gun has been used,” he said.
Kriegler said he was negotiating with land owners to re-route some of the trails to avoid”hot spots” and move to safer and more open areas.
“Unfortunately, riders are soft targets. Thieves are even bumping road cyclists off their bikes to steal them. But they’ve caught these three guys so this is a good advert for GoPro.”
The 59-second footage went viral on Wednesday.
Fox said he posted the incident on YouTube because he believed he acted in the right way in the situation to avoid a violent outcome.
“I told myself to keep calm. I knew I shouldn’t make any sudden movements,” he said.
However, keyboard warriors in various corners of cyberspace debated the merits of his “keep calm” approach.
“Well done for not trying to be a hero,” said Josh Isaacs.
“What a pathetic comment,” responded Lloyd Gardner. “People need to stand up for themselves and stop being bloody victims. Until people start fighting back this crap will continue.”
It was Fox’s first ride back on the trails after a five-year break and, although he’s shaken, he will ride again – but this time not alone.