The affordable education loan option
Cape Town -
It’s hard to be anonymous in this age of Facebook and Twitter.
When Lona Marais was shoved off her bicycle, spat on and then held in front of oncoming traffic by the driver of a plateless vehicle, she was determined to bring him to book.
The Table View resident and a friend were on a training ride on Perlemoen Street in Blouberg on Monday morning.
It is a routine activity for Marais, 47, who has taken part in numerous Ironman competitions and, more recently, the Save the Rhino cycling event.
“As we were crossing the intersection, this big silver double-cab 4x4 just skips a stop sign and almost knocks me over.”
She said the driver was animatedly chatting on his cellphone.
“I shouted at him to get off the phone and watch where he was going. That’s when he rolled down the window and started hurling insults at me.”
Acclimatised to altercations with motorists, Marais thought nothing of the confrontation as the driver sped off. But as she neared the road’s intersection with Marine Drive, she found the angry driver waiting for her.
This time, he did not stay in the car.
After berating her from the front seat, where he threatened to “kill all cyclists”, she said the motorist jumped out of the car and spat in her face.
“That’s how he introduced himself,” she said.
“He then shoved me off my bike, but I held on to him to keep my balance. That’s when he started punching my arms to loosen my grip.”
She said after she fell on to the road he grabbed her left arm, twisted it behind her back and then tried to force her into oncoming traffic.
“I started fighting back at that stage. I just remember being so calm during the whole thing.
“He just kept on shouting how he would kill cyclists.”
Drivers on the other side of the road, seeing the fight unfold, stopped and jumped out to help Marais.
“He got back into his car and sped off. That’s when I noticed he did not have any number plates.”
Marais said she was not badly hurt, coming away with only a few bruises on her arms.
She laid a formal charge at the Table View police station, but without being able to identify the driver it was evident the case was going nowhere. That was when her husband decided to hand out pamphlets and circulate a Facebook post, giving a description of the driver and his vehicle.
He urged people to help track down the motorist and offered R50 000 to anyone who could successfully identify him.
The post sparked outrage online, and quickly went viral as it was shared more than 1 000 times on Facebook and Twitter.
By Wednesday night, a friend of the Marais family said the driver had been identified.
“I would like to thank everyone for helping out,” wrote the user.
Police spokesman Captain FC van Wyk confirmed that an assault charge had been laid at Table View police station.
Reports that the driver had handed himself over to the police on Wednesday afternoon could not be confirmed by the time of going to print.