Cape Town - With a knife in his face, George Mandalios decided he only had one choice - to fight back.
What followed was 20 minutes of stabbing, punching and even biting as he wrestled with his attacker inside the popular Kalky’s restaurant on Sunday night.
“I thought I was going to die,” he told the Cape Argus on Monday morning.
Standing inside the sunlit restaurant, manager Mr Kalky, as he is known among the close-knit fishing community of Kalk Bay harbour where the famous seafood eatery is situated, pointed to his battle scars. His face was bruised and there were bandages covering savage cuts left by the robber’s knife.
“It was a really big knife,” he said measuring its length with his hands. “He stabbed me in the stomach,” he lifts his shirt, “and in the back.”
He said he had been preparing for Monday’s service on Sunday night at about 8.30pm when he heard a knock at the door. Kalky’s was empty because it closed just 30 minutes earlier.
“I thought it was a fisherman because we often help them out with cool drinks, chocolates, sweets, airtime - whatever they need.”
But when he opened the door, the man strode directly towards the rear of the shop.
“I chased after him and when I stopped him, he turn around and pulled a knife on me.
“‘Where is the money?’ he says. ‘It’s in the till.’ But he keeps asking and then tells me to lie on the ground - I thought he was going to slit my throat so I started fighting.”
CCTV camera footage shows the pair struggling in the background. It goes on for 20 minutes.
During this time, Mandalios tries to grab the blade, which leaves a deep gash on three of his fingers.
“I almost had him and then he bit me in the side of the head. I gave up.”
The robber tied up his hands with his belt and then ran to the front of the store.
“I managed to wriggle free and I pressed the alarm.”
CCTV footage shows the robber running away. He never found the till, instead he only managed to grab the R800 in Mandalios’s wallet.
“It’s no big deal… Next time I will be armed with my pepper spray and taser.”
He is also considering hiring a security guard at night.
The restaurant has been part of Kalk Bay harbour for 20 years. Located right on the docks it is a hub for local fishermen, not only to have something to drink and to eat fish and chips, but also to sell snoek and other fish caught on their lines.
Mandalios thinks of the restaurant, with its plastic-draped picnic tables and low-hanging beams, as a headquarters for life at the harbour. He owns a pair of fishing boats which sway in the green water outside.
The shop is owned by Allison Rosslind and her family.
The local residents’ association’s Tony Trimmel said with the number of visitors who flocked to Kalk Bay on a daily basis, the beach front had attracted opportunistic criminals such as the one who tried to rob Kalky’s.
Police spokesman Captain FC van Wyk confirmed that the incident had been reported.
At the time of publication no arrests had been made.
“Anyone with information about this incident is kindly requested to contact the investigating officer Detective Sergeant Bongani Nakane at Muizenberg SAPS or Crime Stop on 08600 10111,” he said.