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Cyclist down but not out after mugging

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IOL Abbas Harris done

CAPE ARGUS

Abbas Harris was attacked by robbers while riding in Turfhall Road between Manenberg and Lansdowne. With him is his wife, Fahmida. Picture: David Ritchie

Cape Town - It’s not the cracked helmet, stitched wound or patchwork of cuts and bruises that worry Abbas Harris in the aftermath of a vicious mugging.

Fresh out of two-day stay in hospital, the avid cyclist is already scouring the internet for a new bike.

“It was sad to see him run off with my bike around the corner. I spent ages building that bicycle.”

But Harris, 42, is lucky to be alive.

On Sunday, at about 7am, the 10-time veteran of the Cape Argus Pick n Pay Cycle Tour was

riding along the shoulder of an empty Turfhall Road, which connects Manenberg and Lansdowne, when he saw a couple standing beside the road.

“It was dead quiet, they were the only people in sight. The man started crossing the street and I even greeted him.”

But seconds later Harris was flung off his bike by a blow to his head.

“It felt like he hit me with a brick, I’m not sure, but it was definitely hard, it cracked my helmet.”

Harris hit the road, landing between jagged shards of scrap metal. One piece slashed his stomach, another left a gash below his left knee.

Harris said the man grabbed his R60 000 Scott bike and fled up a side road, while the woman snatched his cellphone and ran in another direction.

“I just watched him run round the corner, and my bike was gone. For five minutes I didn’t feel any pain and then it really started to hurt.”

An ambulance that had been parked nearby came across Harris and he was rushed to hospital.

Harris said it could have been much worse. ”What if I hadn’t been wearing a helmet. The blow could have killed me, or they could have stabbed me.”

Turfhall Road is rapidly becoming a no-go area for cyclists. The long uninterrupted stretch of tarmac is ideal for cycling, but on thehubsa.co.za, a local cycling forum, many cyclists have reported being robbed there, their attackers often taking their bikes.

“The reality is it’s unsafe and something needs to be done. I just want to raise awareness of what is going on there, maybe to stop someone from being killed.”

Harris was due to report the incident to the police on Tuesday, but he hoped the tracking software on his phone might expose the thief’s location.

Doctors have advised him against cycling, but he is keen to get back to the sport. He is the secretary of Team Spartans Cycling Development Club.

“I hope this won’t stop me getting my sub-three time in the Argus.”

kieran.legg@inl.co.za

Cape Argus


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