Tourists stabbed at Cape Town airport

Written by Yazeed Kamaldien

A Bloemfontein family’s holiday in Cape Town ended in bloodshed yesterday when a “mentally disturbed” man attacked them with a knife at Cape Town International Airport.

A man, 61, and his son, 23, were stabbed multiple times. They were receiving medical treatment at Medi Clinic Hospital in Gardens.

The family did not want to be named or have their photographs published but related their story to Cape Times yesterday. They were on holiday in Cape Town.

“We dropped off one of our sons to get a flight home to Bloemfontein. We went to level two of the parking lot. My son was ahead of myself and my wife. A huge man came behind my son and tackled him to the ground,” said the father.

“I thought it was a mugger. He beat my son and then it appeared that he had a knife. I grabbed him off the kid and then he went for me. He stabbed me three times (in the left arm).”

A man attacked at Cape Town International Airport holds the bloodied T-shirt of his son, 23, who was stabbed five times in the same attack. (Photo by Yazeed Kamaldien)

A man attacked at Cape Town International Airport holds the bloodied T-shirt of his son, 23, who was stabbed five times in the same attack. (Photo by Yazeed Kamaldien)

He continued: “A crowd gathered and saw what was happening. Three female police officers came but they didn’t have handcuffs. They then ran off to call male police officers who had guns. They forced him to the ground and took him to a holding cell.

“They told us he was either mentally unstable or high on drugs.”

He also said it was “disgusting that this happened at the airport”.

“This should not happen at the airport. It’s an area where tourists arrive. It’s a window to our country. The police took us through the arrivals hall with blood all over our clothes. What impression does that create?” said the man.

His wife said the attack “didn’t appear as a robbery”.

“We are all very shocked. Our son could have been murdered in front of our eyes at the airport,” she said.

A doctor at the hospital told the family their son’s stab wounds was “pretty deep”. He had been stabbed in both shoulders near the spine and remains hospitalized.

The wife’s cousin from Johannesburg said they rushed to the airport to assist the family. She was also on holiday with her husband and said she was “almost robbed at the Waterfront three weeks ago”.

“This has confirmed my fears about Cape Town. I’ve been scared of muggings in this city. There are thugs in Cape Town. I’m shocked at what happened to my cousin in an international city and airport,” she said.

Cape Town airport’s acting spokesperson Deborah Francis confirmed the “isolated assault” at an airport that on average has 23 000 visitors passing through its doors during the festive season.

“The suspect appeared to be unstable as he begged the police to shoot him. This incident is an abnormal occurrence and given the airports various levels of security it is an incident that has the full arm of the law,” said Francis.

The police will go through court proceedings to determine the mental status and motive of the suspect. We regret this incident as it is extremely random and trust that this family has a speedy recovery on all levels.”

Western Cape police spokesperson Andre Traut said a “man in his 20s was arrested”.

“He was arrested on charges of assault with attempt to commit grievous bodily harm. We have reason to believe he is mentally disturbed,” said Traut.

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About Yazeed Kamaldien

Self-employed journalist and photographer from South Africa.

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