Mayor races to the rescue in early morning incident on notorious road
In yet another frightening, brazen attack on a cyclist on what is fast becoming a notorious stretch of road, Nelson Mandela Bay mayor Athol Trollip’s training partner was charged at by a knifewielding thug yesterday as the pair were on a pre-dawn ride.
The startling incident involving Brian Spilkin, 52, happened in Victoria Drive with Trollip just 100m away and has prompted the mayor to assure athletes that their safety will be prioritised and the culprits brought to book.
Trollip, who immediately came to the rescue of Spilkin, said he had even had a disturbing premonition shortly before setting out on the early training session.
The latest attack is the fifth such incident in recent weeks on what has always been a hugely popular section of the Ironman cycle route, and comes shortly after two international Ironman participants were assaulted along the same stretch of road.
Like many cyclists, Trollip and Spilkin were riding the route that stretches along Marine Drive to Schoenmakerskop and then turns right into Victoria Drive towards Walmer, at about 5am.
As they were riding past one of the main intersections leading into Walmer Township, Trollip noticed a group of men that made him feel uneasy.
“I had spoken to a friend the previous night who was also attacked along that route, and I had a premonition about the morning’s ride before we even started,” Trollip said.
“The road had become busy with commuters on their way to work, but I noticed a group of four individuals and their demeanour immediately made me suspicious.
“So I made sure to keep eye contact with them, trying to stare them down as I rode past.”
Seconds later, Trollip heard his training partner scream for help and when he turned to look, saw one of the “suspicious men” lunging at Spilkin with a knife.
“Brian was riding about 100m behind me at the time.
“I heard him shouting my name, and when I looked back I saw one of the men, wearing a long coat, swinging his knife at Brian about three or four times.
“I turned my bike around and bolted straight at the man. Luckily that scared him off, and his group disappeared into the nearby bushes.”
Both Trollip and Spilkin escaped unharmed.
Trollip has since been in contact with mayoral committee member for safety and security John Best and consequently, additional security measures will be put in place along the route from this morning.
He said the safety of cyclists and runners, especially along that specific route, was a concern, and permanent patrols would be put in place along the route.
“We need to ensure incidents like these do not happen again. We do not want people to feel unsafe along this route and start avoiding it. Law-abiding citizens should not yield their city to criminals.
“This is the work of a small group of thugs, not the community that lives in that area. These thugs have made the robbing of cyclists their business and they need to be removed,” Trollip said.
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