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What a Christmas present Santa offered me yesterday – a mugging in broad daylight right in the middle of Cape Town. While most of the world enjoyed Christmas pudding, I was being confronted by two hard-faced young women, armed with at least one blade.

There I was walking through the central business area of this beautiful city when two girls approached and tried to get a conversation going.

Image of part of  a Sailing to Purgatory webpage to illustrate the article.
Menacing maisies ... Confronted by female muggers poses challenges, rather more than simply losing your possessions, and what they plan to do with the knife. Please note, though, that this isn't a photo of the girls. diGital Sennin's image is here to simply set the perplexing scene. Many thanks to diGital Sennin and to Unsplash for the illustration.
I am left without the mobile phone, very grateful not to have been knifed, and with considerable uncertainty about the way a man should respond when attacked by a woman.

They were in their early twenties, dressed quite neatly, but with hard faces, as if life had not treated them well. The look is not unusual for Cape Town – a large part of the community is impoverished, with little chance of change.

They looked not unlike street prostitutes, which abound here. ‘No, thank you, ladies,’ I said and kept walking.

Blocked my way

I didn’t realise that they began to follow me. Near the Cape Quarter, only a block or two from the central area, the girls blocked my way. One grabbed an arm as she began an attempt to rough me up.

It’s a double dilemma when you’re attacked by a woman. How do you defend yourself? You can’t punch them, can’t offer some body blow. I really didn’t know how to answer it, except to try to pull the girl’s hands away. The other woman stood close behind me, obviously ready to snatch my backpack.

I had seen my attacker take a blade from the other girl. Fortunately, she pocketed it – this was broad daylight, not even 2 in the afternoon, even if there were very few people about.

The attacker grabbed my mobile phone, which I had just been using. She immediately turned and ran off. However, she was running slowly.

I was about to give chase, then realised the ploy. Get me away from the open area and stab me and snatch the backpack.

Both were armed

I let her run away. Her companion accompanied her, but at a little distance, so I couldn’t chase the second woman either.

However, I had little doubt that they were both armed. The notion of being slashed and hospitalised in Cape Town, perhaps worse, had little appeal, as you might imagine.

Looking back on my life of travel and sailing to distant lands, it feels amazing that the only times I have been the victim of attempts at mugging - three - is in Cape Town. This is the only time it has been successful for the muggers, if snatching a phone with very little airtime left is exactly success.

I am left without the mobile phone, very grateful not to have been knifed, and with considerable uncertainty about the way a man should respond when attacked by a woman. I know: I’ll visit the tourist department here when it opens and put the challenge to the experts.

Thanks very much for visiting the SailingToPurgatory.com blogs for Sailing to Purgatory, the book of my last oceanic voyage, 8,000 miles to what ought to have been a happy retirement from my mistress, the sea. However, it was just about the exact opposite ...