A panga-wielding assailant attacked a Claremont teenager as he was walking from a nightclub to his nearby flat, hacking off his hand and splitting his head, sparking fears that young patrons leaving establishments along the popular party strip are being targeted.
Zander Vermeulen, 19, managed to run to get help while holding his severed left hand, attached by a thread of skin, with his right hand.
The teenager was attacked while walking home alone at 3am last Friday, apparently by motorists pretending to ask for directions to a nearby ATM.
They pulled up alongside him in their car in Bowwood Road, then attacked him, according to his flatmate.
Tayler Sani, who shares a flat with
Vermeulen, raised the alarm via Facebook this week.
“While walking away from the car, one man exited the vehicle carrying a panga machete (sic) and began to chase Zander.
“While running away, Zander was struck on the back of his head with the panga and tripped,” she said.
“Trying to protect himself, he raised his arm up and his hand was subsequently severed. He ran, holding his hand, back down Bowwood Road, and the attackers fled.”
Vermeulen’s hand was reattached hours later on Friday and Sani said he was doing well.
Attempts to contact Vermeulen’s father, Chris, of Somerset West, proved unsuccessful.
The incident was a third vicious attack to be reported in seven months involving patrons apparently being followed after leaving clubs in Claremont. Carl Schoombie, 27, was dragged from an Uber taxi in neighbouring Rondebosch and beaten in November after leaving Tiger Tiger.
He died in hospital days later.
This week Schoombie’s brother Lee told Weekend Argus he was shocked another clubgoer had been attacked after leaving a Claremont establishment.
“People know there are late-nighters walking home from the clubs and they target them. Every month there are muggings.”
He called for security in the vicinity of Claremont’s clubs to be jacked up.
Months before Schoombie was attacked, in July, Sanet de Lange, 18, reported being attacked while walking after leaving Tiger Tiger.
The case was finalised with no one being prosecuted.
Sani’s Facebook page said Vermeulen was attacked as he was walking home from a club in Claremont. “Before seeing Zander, his attackers were headed to Main Road by Tiger Tiger and Tin Roof, where many were still out.” She wrote that Vermeulen, bleeding profusely and shouting for help, managed to reach their flat after the attack.
“A friend, Blake Greenwood, and I were able to get Zander to the hospital in time. He had lost a lot of blood and he is truly very lucky to be alive,” Sani said.
“The doctors have reattached Zander’s hand and have placed 16 staples in his head.”
She urged anyone with information about the attack, which she suggested may have been a gang initiation, to report it to police.
“If we don’t, then many will continue to take that seemingly harmless five-minute walk home, or the trip just down the road from the clubs to the McDonalds and in reality it could cost them their life.
“It almost cost Zander his.”
Sani’s post was shared thousands of times and caused a major outcry. One mother replied to the Facebook post saying that her son was attacked outside a club in Claremont that same night.
He had been attacked from behind by four men.
Police spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Andrè Traut confirmed the attack on Vermeulen.
He said the teen had been walking on the corner of Bowwood and Foyle roads when a car pulled up. The occupants asked him for directions to the nearest ATM.
Vermeulen gave them directions and continued walking.
“It is then alleged that one of the occupants alighted from the vehicle, armed with a panga and walked towards the victim and for no reason hit him on the back of his head with the panga,” Traut said.
He confirmed the attacker also struck Vermeulen’s hand.
No arrests had been made.
Abdul Kerbelker, head of the Claremont Central Improvement District Company and the Claremont community police forum, said there was a CCTV camera network in the central business district. “(The attacks) happen as people leave the CBD.”
He said it was possible the attackers knew about the cameras and were, therefore targeting victims in streets where there were no cameras.
Kerbelker met police on Tuesday to discuss the situation.
“Police have identified an issue on Main Road… I asked them to come up with a plan of action around clubs.”
Kerbelker said a street alongside one of those in which Vermeulen had been attacked had resident-sponsored CCTV cameras.
Bowwood Road, where the attack occurred, does not have cameras.
Kerbelker said the attacks over the seven months, on Vermeulen, Schoombie and De Lange, did not appear to be linked.
“Each case comes with its own set of circumstances.”