Exchange student Tom Janssens who was attacked and robbed in Gugulethu. Photo: Sunday Argus, Leon Lestrade
Exchange student Tom Janssens who was attacked and robbed in Gugulethu. Photo: Sunday Argus, Leon Lestrade

Belgian students stabbed with broken bottle

By Kowthar Solomons Time of article published Mar 6, 2011

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Belgian architectural students were attacked and stabbed with a broken bottle near popular tourist spot Mzoli’s this week.

The two, who had been strolling around Gugulethu and taking pictures of local buildings, were also robbed of a R20 000 camera.

But a community tip-off helped Gugulethu police arrest one of the three men wanted in connection with the robbery of Tom Janssens and Matheus Staelins, both from Kent University in Brussels.

Police spokesman Elliot Sinyangana said police were still searching for the remaining suspects.

Janssens and Staelins, who have been in Cape Town for the past five weeks surveying townships, visited Mzoli’s restaurant in Gugulethu with a group of friends. Impressed by the area, they went back on their own about lunchtime on Thursday, persuaded a man they met at Mzoli’s to be a guide, and went on a walk around the area to look at the architecture.

They then returned to their car, parked just opposite Mzoli’s, and saw three men standing near the vehicle.

Janssens said it was clear the men were waiting for them to return to their car.

“They had knives and a broken bottle head. They threatened to stab us if we didn’t hand over my camera. After a brief scuffle we gave up the camera. They then ran off in different directions. I noticed a huge cut on my left arm and smaller cuts on my hand and right shoulder.”

Locals helped the two men to the Gugulethu Day Hospital and then the police station to report the incident.

The students returned to their dormitory in Observatory and told the dorm owner what had happened. One of the staff, who lives in Gugulethu, asked her family and neighbours to check if anyone in the area knew about the robbery. She was told a community member had seen the robbery and was able to identify one suspect.

Janssens returned to Gugulethu police station at 9pm that night to report this new information. Four hours later the man was arrested.

Sinyangana said the arrest was a result of a partnership with the community. “We are working together to fight crime.”

Janssens said he was very impressed with the community’s support and the quick police work, but had to return Belgium without his camera.

Would he be back? He said: “The rest of the trip has been wonderful. I would love to come back, given the chance.” - Sunday Argus

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