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Wheels turn on thieves: Cape community helps Japanese tourist get bike back

Community spirit is a powerful weapon against opportunistic crime, as the example of the theft of a Japanese tourist’s bike in Cape Town shows. Combined with the instant reach of Twitter and Facebook to #getthebikeback, it’s a win all round that turned into #gotthebikeback. It’s helps to offset the effects of the graphic images of xenophobic violence in South Africa that have been relayed across the globe in recent days. – Marika Sboros

By Louzel Lombard

stolen bikeCape Town, News 24 – What would have been a truly grim South African experience for cycling tourist, Daigo Narita, who was robbed of his bicycle and gear, turned out to be a heart-warming example of unity within a local Western Cape community in Ceres.

Narita, a Japanese tourist cycling through Africa over the last three and a half years, was in Ceres outside Cape Town on Wednesday, nearing the end of his journey – when his bicycle and all of his gear was stolen overnight.

That is until SA adventurer Riaan Manser, got wind of the incident. Manser told Traveller24, he was notified about Narita’s ordeal via Hiromu Jimbo, a Japanese friend he met two years ago.

“He had mailed me from Turkey to say what had just happened. I was a bit bummed at first and negative to the idea we would ever see his gear and bike again.”

Manser sent out some tweets and Facebook posts to get the ball rolling.

“An hour later at about 08:30, we had radio stations and newspapers on board. #getthebikeback was the hashtag we used”.

Riaan Manser

Riaan Manser

Manser’s followers took spiritedly to the trend on Twitter and Facebook to help ‘#GetTheBikeBack’, and soon local radio stations such as KFM 94.5 and Cape Talk aided in spreading the word and fueling the hashtag.

It took mere minutes for Manser’s hashtag #GetTheBikeBack to go viral and within six hours, Narita’s bike “was found in a nearby township, albeit in pieces” – spurring on the follow-up hashtag, #GotTheBikeBack!

“If someone knows how valuable a bike like that is, it is me. Daigo kept telling me that he doesn’t want another new bike as replacement. He wants his bike back.”

Manser also commended the Ceres police for turning the negative incident into a positive, saying “Col Williams promised he would put a detective on it for the entire day.”

There was also an overwhelming response from Ceres locals.

“One of the owners of Ceres Cycles, Jaco Taylor was a real champion, jumping straight in. He looked after Daigo for the day, liaising with the investigators. Jaco is now helping put the bike back together for him,” said Manser

Manser admitted he honestly did not expect to get the bike back, but told Traveller24 he was not at all surprised by the immediate reaction of South Africans wanting to do good, which he felt was crucial to getting the bike back.

“We as South Africans have had a hell two weeks. We’re tired mentally. We needed a good end to this robbery. Bottom line is people are robbed all over the world. I’ve been mugged at gunpoint more than a dozen times. The end result was my focus. The people of Ceres were not going to let them get away and‎ I knew the story would end well.”

When asked how Daigo had responded to the incident, Manser said he was sure that through his travels, Daigo had learnt to take everything as it comes.

“But let’s not beat around the bush here. He is safe, he has his bike back and he is going to finish the three and a half years on a super positive note. It’s an amazing end to negative story,” said Manser.

Narita began his solo travel in 2012 when he cycled from Alask aiming to cycle all the way to the Cape of Good Hope. For his entire trip through Africa.

As a sign of solidarity, some South African cyclist have asked to join Narita on the final stretch of his cycling to Cape Town. Cycle suppliers in the Mother City have also shown their proudly South African spirit, offering Narita some new cycle gear while he is here.

Narita will be heading back to Japan from Cape Town. Manser said that it was a great effort all around and everybody involved has helped to change an entire journey Narita.

And in turn the entire incident has now sparked a new adventure for Manser who told traveller24, “It now looks like my Japanese friends have me booked on a flight to Tokyo soon. Hiromu says they have an adventure waiting. ‎I’ve toyed with the Japanese options for a few years so let’s see.” – News24/Traveller24



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