Groenkloof Nature Reserve 'survivors' to bury ghost with bubbly
According to the 16 victims, who plan on “cracking” the champagne at the nature reserve to celebrate the sentencing, Dickson Nyathi struck fear into them.
Nyathi, 29, was found guilty on seven counts, including robbery with aggravating circumstances and attempted rape.
The Zimbabwean was linked to a number of cases at the Groenkloof reserve and according to police spokesperson Captain Augustinah Selepe, Nyathi had terrorised the nature reserve for years.
“We have had numerous cases over the years about this notorious robber, but we couldn’t nab him,” she said.
He was finally caught in 2016 at Salvokop, but he was released on bail, only for him to be arrested again in June during a police stop-and-search in the CBD.
“He was arrested with another man after being found in possession of a stolen cellphone,” said Selepe.
According to police, Nyathi was identified for the Groenkloof attacks in a line-up and positively linked to four other cases reported at the reserve.
Selepe said the man arrested with Nyathi was not linked to the attacks at the nature reserve, but was found guilty of being in possession of stolen cellphones and sentenced to two years in jail.
A 28-year-old victim, or a "survivor" as she refers to herself, Tachia Slabbert, said she was attacked in 2016 by Nyathi while hiking and has not been able to visit a nature reserve since.
“This guy (Nyathi) took away an age-old family hobby. He psychologically scared me and others.
"He deserves the years in prison,” said Slabbert.
She said the victims planned to go to Groenkloof in October to find closure. “It has been a tough number of years with court cases, flashbacks and threats. But now all of that is behind us and it’s important to move on,” she said.
Although Slabbert is keen on moving on, she’s not sure she’ll cycle and walk at Groenkloof Nature Reserve again. She encouraged victims to come out and not be a shadow of their past.
Slabbert, a primary school teacher, said Nyathi shoved his hands into her underwear.
A keen photographer, she was walking through the reserve with her mother, taking pictures of the wildlife.
“I had put the lens in my bra so it would be close when I needed to change,” she said.
Slabbert said her mom felt uneasy 2km into the walk, but she kept on reassuring her it was safe and that people hiked there all the time.
Unfortunately, her fears became a reality when they saw two men running towards them.
"We thought they were runners. We made way for them, but they pulled out knives and threw us to the ground. They started fondling us.”
The two then stabbed her mother in the neck for not having any valuables on her.
Slabbert said she was so filled with rage that she fought back.
“He drew back with the knife to stab me in the neck and I kicked him between his legs. I got to my feet and I looked him in the eye and said I was going to kill him.
"He had ripped my camera from my neck and they even took our shoes," she said.