Visitors warned to be alert on Cape Town’s N2 ‘Hell Run’
With the festive season fast approaching, Cape Town is expected to see a surge in the number of visitors – many of whom will be travelling on the notorious ‘Hell Run’ on the N2. The freeway leading to and from Cape Town International Airport remains a hotspot for attacks on motorists.
The “Hell Run” – a notoriously crime-ridden stretch of road on the N2 freeway in Cape Town – remains a hotspot for stone-throwing attacks on motorists.
In the past year, the South African National Road Agency’s (Sanral) detection system responded to more than 200 crime events on the N2 and R300 in Cape Town. These stretches of road are high-priority zones closely monitored by the Freeway Management System (FMS), which is overseen by Sanral.
Meanwhile, attacks on motorists continue unabated.
Read more in Daily Maverick: Families of stoning victims on Cape Town’s N2 ‘Hell Run’ are still waiting for justice
Sanral’s western region manager, Randall Cable, told Daily Maverick that priority sectors are determined by all road authorities and law enforcement. Cable said the responsibility for safety on the N2 fell under the City of Cape Town and Western Cape government, city law enforcement and SAPS.
“Sanral is not a law enforcement agency, but works closely with them to support their activities,” he said.
Cable said Sanral is the road authority “responsible for the road environment and engineering aspects on the portion of the N2. The FMS is a joint initiative with the City of Cape Town and the Western Cape government as it covers portions of freeways that fall under their jurisdictions as well. It collects freeway statistics of all incidents, including criminal and safety and security incidents.”
“The freeway statistics are analysed monthly and have indicated portions of the N2, R300, N1 and N7 as high-priority sections. This is a year-long initiative and not limited to the festive season,” he continued.
“The majority of these incidents on the N2 were robbery incidents, where stationary vehicles were targeted and attacked, followed by a decreased rate of smash and grabs at intersections,” said Cable.
Daily Maverick has reported on several incidents of stone-throwing on the N2 and other connecting roads in recent months:
- In March 2023, Leonie van der Westhuizen died after a rock shattered the car window and struck her in the head, triggering cardiac arrest. The Van der Westhuizen’s were reportedly directed by Google Maps via Nyanga because their planned route was closed.
- In July, a 21-year-old student from Inscape in Stellenbosch, Lucilla Vlok, had her jaw fractured when a rock was hurled through her car window while she was driving on the N2 to Cape Town International Airport.
- Most recently, in October, Los Angeles couple Jason and Kate Zoladz were en route to Cape Town International Airport via Philippi when a brick shattered the car window, forcing them to stop. Four men approached their rental car and robbed them at gunpoint.
A 55-year-old tourist from Connecticut in the US was the latest victim. He was shot in the face and robbed on Friday, 3 November after landing at Cape Town airport and directed by a navigation service through Nyanga to Simon’s Town, News24 reported.
Western Cape police spokesperson Captain FC van Wyk told Daily Maverick on Tuesday that the circumstances surrounding the incident are under investigation.
“A case of attempted murder and robbery with a firearm was registered at Mowbray and will be transferred to Nyanga for further investigation,” he said.
He said no arrests had been made and that further investigation would be conducted by provincial detectives for serious and violent crimes.
Marc Volker, the founder and CEO of the Safe N2 Project – which is aimed at tracking largely underreported street crime in the Western Cape and warning people of potential road threats – said police highway patrols had not been effective.
“The issues regarding the highway are very prevalent. They escalate every time and the safety and security staff intensifying efforts in terms of patrols and visible policing has zero impact because it does not slow it down,” he said.
“The response has not been effective at all for years and the reaction from law enforcement or the safety and security departments has not yielded any long-term solution.”
Discussions with Google
Lyndon Khan, spokesperson for Cape Town Mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis, said the mayor and Cape Town Tourism met staff from Google Maps on 2 November to discuss safe route recommendations to and from Cape Town International Airport.
“Fruitful discussions were held and the work will now be taken forward by Google technicians and Cape Town traffic and tourism authorities,” said Khan.
Daily Maverick sent queries to Google Maps, but did not receive a response by the time of publication.
The spokesperson for the City of Cape Town’s metro police department, Ruth Solomons, told Daily Maverick last month that the incidents of stone-throwing were random and did not follow a clear pattern.
“Although the city’s Public Emergency Communication Centre and Emergency Policing and Incident Command register service requests and/or calls for assistance in related incidents, SAPS is the leading crime prevention authority and the majority of incidents are reported directly to SAPS,” said Solomons.
“It should be noted that stone-throwing incidents are sporadic and do not follow a clear pattern. Complaints of stone-throwing are sent to enforcement agencies close to the location,” she said.
“All City of Cape Town enforcement departments, including specialised units such as the Highway Patrol Unit, will act and support SAPS if notified about incidents or when officers come across such incidents.”
In response to questions from Daily Maverick about plans put in place ahead of the festive season, Cape Town Tourism spokesperson Briony Brookes told Daily Maverick last month they encouraged travellers to use the resources provided and to contact their team if they needed assistance.
“We have our travel-wise platform that includes a ‘safety in Cape Town’ section, which provides up-to-date safety information, practical tips and emergency contact numbers,” said Brookes.
“We also distribute these safety tips in brochures and bookmarks, and Cape Town Tourism regularly does room drops at hotels in hotspot areas… SAPS and law enforcement also hand these tips out during visitor safety activations.” DM
Additional reporting by Victoria O’Regan.