Cycling South Africa says it is “horrified and disgusted” at a video posted to YouTube that shows members of a group of cyclists allegedly assaulting a van driver in Cape Town, including one using pepper spray on him. Other cycling organisations have also condemned the behaviour of the cyclists involved.
The incident took place on Sunday 2 March on Sea Point road in Cape Town, reports IOL News. The driver of the van was a 19-year-old student who had been volunteered to help clean up the road after the 10km Nelson Mandela Commemorative Walk.
It came at the start of the biggest week of the year for cycling in the Western Cape, with a series of events building up to Sunday’s Cape Argus Cycle Tour, with around 30,000 entrants the world’s biggest mass participation cycling event.
Footage of the incident captured by Symon Scott, who posted it to YouTube. A friend of his also provided it to the police. Mr Scott said: “There was a lot more going down than what you can see in the video."
According to the description of the video provided by Mr Scott, the van “was double parked but it went unnoticed by the leader of the group who was looking back and communicating to the rest of the team.
“The group were moving swiftly and only at the last second when the leader again faced forwards, did he see the vehicle... Just in the nick of time.
“He had to swerve violently to avoid the vehicle and this obviously upset him. He stopped his bicycle abruptly and flew into a violent rage. The entire peloton pulled up in support and some followed his lead.”
In his account of the incident, the driver, Ibrahim Waggie, said: “I was driving down Sea Point Beach Road. There were these water sachets and the guys at the back of the van were spraying each other.
“There were about 30 cyclists taking up one whole lane, and I overtook them. I don’t know if they got wet from the water sachets they were playing with in the back, or if one of the sachets hit them.
“I stopped at a red robot, where the guys would pick up sachets, when this man just started hitting me. I didn’t know for what reason.
“One guy hit me with the wheel of his bicycle twice. One hit me with fists. I was sprayed three times with pepper spray. It was for 15-20 minutes and I couldn’t drive away because I couldn’t see,” he added.
A police spokesman has confirmed that "cases of common assault and malicious damage to property were opened at Sea Point police station on Sunday.”
In a statement, Cycling South Africa said it “is horrified and disgusted by the behaviour and actions of a group of cyclists towards a motorist in the Western Cape at the weekend, that has emerged in a video clip online.
“Cycling SA condemns this type of behaviour in the strongest way possible and in no way condones or accepts this type of behaviour. This reaction towards a motorist cannot be justified in any manner whatsoever, whatever the circumstances. There is just no place for such behaviour in our sport.
It added: “Cycling SA is in touch with the cycling clubs who have been represented in the footage, and are currently trying to identify these individuals to institute immediate action, if they are affiliated to the organisation.”
The Pedal Power Association (PPA), South Africa’s largest recreational cycling organisation which stages some 50 events each year, said: “We are investigating the incident as a matter of urgency.
“We have contacted the club in question and have asked them for an official response as well as the names of the cyclists in question, to reach PPA on Tuesday 4 March 2014. Once we have all the facts at our disposal, disciplinary action will take place.”
The Cape Town Cycling Trust said that it condemned “in the strongest possible terms the incident that occurred in the early hours of Sunday morning. The kind of behaviour displayed is totally unacceptable.
“The Trust will be working together with the Pedal Power Association to identify those involved, following which the names will be forwarded to the authorities for a formal investigation, the outcome of which will determine the consequences for those involved.”
There were calls on the PPA’s Facebook page for the riders involved, and even their clubs, to be excluded from the Cape Argus Cycle Tour.
Some of the cyclists (in the light blue, yellow and white kit) were identified as belonging to the Muhammadeyah Cycling Club, although none of them is shown actually participating in the attack in the video.
The club posted a message on its Facebook page that read: “We are currently liaising with the relevant parties and investigating the matter,” adding it would provide an update “as soon as possible.” That page now appears to have been made private.
An article from the PPA republished on the club’s website in October warned cyclists to be vigilant following a series of muggings of lone riders.
That perhaps explains why one rider may have armed himself with pepper spray, which is legal in South Africa – although that is of course no excuse for the alleged use of it by a rider in Sunday's incident.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.