South Africa

HIGHWAY STONING ATTACK

Student latest victim of N2 rock-throwing incident on Cape Town’s ‘Hell Run’

Student latest victim of N2 rock-throwing incident on Cape Town’s ‘Hell Run’
Lucilla Vlok was attacked on 22 July 2023 by an unknown man as she was driving to Cape Town International Airport in Cape Town, South Africa. (Photo: Supplied)

‘Everything happened very quickly,’ said a 21-year-old student, describing what happened while she was driving to Cape Town International Airport.

A 21-year-old student from Inscape in Stellenbosch, Lucilla Vlok, had a brush with death while driving to Cape Town International Airport to pick up a friend on the afternoon of 22 July.

I was driving on the N2 highway in the shoulder lane that leads to the airport when I noticed a man walking very slowly and looking at each car that passed. When I was alongside him, I heard a loud bang against the window,” she told Daily Maverick.

The window was shattered. It was just before 1pm.

She continued driving. In the rear-view mirror, she noticed there was blood on her chin. 

“Everything happened very quickly … all I can remember is he had sneakers on, a long shirt and short pants.”

The attack happened around 3km from the airport on a notorious stretch of highway known as “Hell Run”. 

“I was in pain but I managed to drive to the airport and pull into the parking lot. I then phoned my father. While telling him what had happened, I decided to press my car’s hooter because I felt like I was on the verge of passing out.” 

A passerby came to her assistance and, shortly after, the friend she was picking up arrived and she was taken to the airport’s medical centre. 

Later, she received treatment for a fractured jaw, including stitches, at Mediclinic Stellenbosch.

She reported the incident to Stellenbosch police on Monday.

Police spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Malcolm Pojie told Daily Maverick on Thursday that no arrests had been made.  

“However, high-density patrols and visibility have been increased in the area to ensure the safety of all.” 

Static deployments had been established at strategic points along the highways, he said. 

“This visibility is reinforced through the deployment of integrated forces such as law enforcement and traffic.”

There have been several incidents of stone-throwing on the N2 in recent months. 

Read more in Daily Maverick: Husband desperate for justice after stone hurled by robbers kills academic en route to CT International Airport 

On 17 April, 69-year-old Leonie van der Westhuizen suffered a cardiac arrest and died two days after a rock thrown at her car hit her in the head. She was travelling along another route to the airport with her husband at the time.

This week, the couple’s son, Jaco Nuuste, expressed frustration with what he said was a lack of interest in investigating the attack on his parents’ car and trying to find the perpetrator.

“I’ve asked them so many times over the last four months to check the video footage from the building next to the traffic lights. But nothing has happened. They haven’t even sent anyone to interview my father.”  

Police confirmed on Thursday no arrests had been made in the Van Der Westhuizen incident.  

Read more in Daily Maverick: SONA 2023 – SA’s soaring murder rate underscores need for Ramaphosa to ensure better leadership in policing 

Asked what was being done to ensure the safety of motorists on the N2, Mayco member for safety and security, JP Smith, said: “We utilise the various CCTV networks to help monitor known hotspots and to help redirect our resources where potential threats are identified. 

“Investigators from our investigative unit are also conducting tracking and tracing operations to ensure we can assist SAPS with making meaningful arrests.”

Smith added: “Where possible, our enforcement agencies will conduct patrols of hotspot areas, but due to the many demands on our services, it is not possible to maintain a continuous static presence at any one particular spot.” DM

This article was amended on Friday at 9.15am to correct the campus affiliation of the student, who is studying at Inscape, not Stellenbosch University. Daily Maverick apologises for the mixup. 

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Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Martin Neethling says:

    This stretch of N2 described as the ‘Hell Run’ is a symbol of failure of government, in plain sight every day. The concrete fence that was erected years ago to prevent people and animals accessing the road verge has been picked to pieces. At several points along the way, cars park on the outside of this fence, and there are now a few structures as well. Inevitably the sprawl of informal structures will overwhelm the road verge, meaning that people and animals will be right on the edge of the N2. As it is there is high pedestrian traffic at times along the route. Smashing a window in the hope of hurting the driver, forcing them to stop, and then robbing them, seems straightforward. What is not clear is why the City of Cape Town is so silent, so passive on this matter. Letters to Mayor Hill-Lewis go unanswered. I assume that perhaps this is a jurisdictional problem, that the road verge and the fence belong to SANRAL, who are ignoring the problem or refusing to help. Whatever the source, it is a massive, urgent problem. It’s bad for motorists, terrible for the City’s image, and can’t possibly be a sustainable situation. The road has to be cleared of pedestrians and animals. All township living has to be forced back behind a solid barrier. The integrity of the road verge has to be restored. This ‘increased patrols’ story is a leaking plaster on a gaping wound.

    • Andries Breytenbach says:

      Couldn’t agree more.

    • Ra Ma says:

      Good suggestions. There are nearly 15 million unemployed people in South Africa, who are mostly young and fit. What an enormous amount of wasted labour that must be used to improve the country.

      • Francois Smith says:

        They can also be used to guard power lines, railway lines and even spots popular for dumping waste. (That excludes Ramaphosa’s office.)

    • Marc Ve says:

      100%. If only the journalists would approach these articles on the same basis- add a dose of realism and cynicism and them report.

    • andrew farrer says:

      100% – create a no-go zone on the verge and have our useless army enforce it with shoot to kill orders, the only language they understand

  • Deon Botha-Richards says:

    With so many unemployed people around it seems easy to find people who can maintain a presence in all these places without costing a fortune.

  • ian hurst says:

    The same happened to me. Midday in July. nobody hurt, but the windscreen smashed. The rock thrower was in the central reservation. I think it was just vandalism

  • Bonzo Gibbon says:

    Will be disastrous for Cape Tourism if allowed to continue.

  • Petrus Kleinhans says:

    This is not good enough from the DA government in the Western Cape. Don’t claim excellence in government while failing like this. Provide regular enclosed crossings for pedestrians. Fix AND MAINTAIN the fencing and make it illegal for pedestrians to be there in the highway road verge. Then monitor the area with CCV and pic up and remove any pedestrians. It irritates me when the DA talks a good job but when things really need to happen nothing much does. If you want to lead the country to a better future, then show you have the political will to do so. There is too much evidence that shows that the life of a citizen has become cheap in South Africa and politicians talk and that is about all they do.

    • Kat Hessler says:

      Is this under the jurisdiction of the DA or SANRAl? The police also do not answer to the DA but to the government. The western Cape is being flooded by people from the Eastern and Northern Cape, all looking for ways to put a roof over their heads and food in their mouths. A massively difficult situation to resolve

      • Steve Davidson says:

        Well replied. Thanks. It’s people like him that need to visit the rest of the country and realize how lucky we are to live in the Cape.

      • Fanie Rajesh Ngabiso says:

        This I think highlights 2 real DM commenter challenges: “myopia” and “uninformed good intention”. In the latter, commenters whinge and moan about a particular topic while understanding nothing of the complex mechanics that surround it. In the former, in focussing on the current issue commenters ignore entirely the multitude of other competing priorities that exist.

  • jcdville stormers says:

    This comes from under resourcing the WC Saps manpower wise

  • Rory Short says:

    One of the reasons why we have a government is to minimise crime. The ANC is failing miserably in this regard.

  • Roger Sheppard says:

    In and amongst a few comments below one can read “DA Bashing- yet again! And, comes from those who might well be from Die Volk. How sad! One article DID clear the air and suggest, in all probability accurately so, that SANRAL has a role to play and has not, yet! And so disinformation is spread, about the DA yet again. After all, the N2 IS a SANRAL proprietary concern. Its administrators and top executives earn millions a year! They ought ot have acce to the powers to interrupt, curtail, and then prevent this ‘muck’!
    So many Afrikaners have let go of their past, but, it seems, so may have still a lot to do to let go. Having let go has allowed so many of them access to political power yet again, but on a greater path.
    This greater path is there for anyone to take. And a greater path will ultimately lead to greater good for all Saffers.
    The DA in Western Cape is PROVING this!
    If one wants to, one can join in on this winning streak, and forsake the bitter past – pe-1994 – created by unclear thinking, or simple bloody-mindedness.
    Yep, Blue is the colour – of my true love’s eyes, in the morning, when we rise etc etc! Smile all!

    • Steve Davidson says:

      Another excellent response to one of the volk who still can’t accept the stuff up their stupid Apartheid and Bantu Education made of this country. Thanks.

    • SANDRA SMITH says:

      “Die Volk” “Afrikaners”
      “So many of THEM”
      “Let go of THEIR past”
      Saffers smile on, the blue Brit says

  • Hermann Funk says:

    Fire the minister of police and let every policeman/woman know, if they are not up to the job, they will be fired too. But Ramafailure hasn’t got the backbone to get rid of a useless minister.

  • Cheryl Siewierski says:

    Sadly, it appears well within the current political interests of the ANC in the national government to allow this kind of rot to grow root and spread in Cape Town – CT might not technically be able to do much about the roads and SAPS given the jurisdictional boundaries, but they are certainly left with egg on their faces: ‘See, Cape Town isn’t so perfect’, you can almost hear the ANC bleating. That seems to be the kind of juvenile, own-goal awfulness we are consumed with here. There is no ‘a win for one is a win for all’ mentality, or any respect for trying to emulate what successful metros are doing. It’s just an ‘us vs. them’ fight to the death (of South Africa).

    • Johan Buys says:

      I don’t buy the jurisdiction issue, CPT merrily fines motorists on that road.

      CPT is on a mission to impound vehicles for road worthiness issues such as not having a number plate fitted in the new prescribed manner. So much so that Friday they had 17 enforcement vehicles and flatbed trucks lined up in town to blitz the new rules. Why not deploy a quarter of the roadblock resources to visible, moving policing on key routes?

  • Mpumi Bikitsha says:

    This is heartbreaking. We feel helpless. Thugs everywhere. 💔

    • Mark O’Malley says:

      It is unbelievable that a human being can be so callous, with the intent to harm / kill another for no purpose or reason. Not even animals act like this . Makes you think …

  • mike van wyk says:

    Unfortunately the DA has turned into a lip-service party – all talk and impressive publicity stunts but when it come down to brass tacks such as this particular horror story – they wash their hands and say not our problem. On a lesser note; the Vanrhynsdorp and Vredendal residence have been petitioning the DA lead Provincial Government Western Cape to fix pot-holed town streets properly. All that gets done is the odd road patch-up which deteriorates as soon as there’s rain or high road use. We still waiting for answers. Emails go unanswered. Phone calls go nowhere. Yet the DA say they doing so fine. Well they will learn the hard way come next election! That’s for sure. If the DA wants to hold on to the Western Cape they’d better become far more responsive in practical terms to complaints or get out of the seat! Certainly lost my vote.

  • Rob Wilson says:

    My best wishes for the victims recovery. Authorities are always quick to issue fines for minor infringements at roadblocks, not so keen to do anything to enhance public safety. It fits here, and it fits all along the N2 where motorists overtake recklessly, perform U turns wherever they see fit and travel at breakneck speed. Having someone stalk the road with a rock in his hand is akin to carrying a loaded weapon in a shopping centre with intention to cause grievous harm to someone-or worse. Soaking our taxes up for cameras placed all over the show, use the things for goodness sake. Roads are for vehicles, not pedestrians and animals.

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