‘The bicycle was his only way of getting around’

Wim Braamse, 64, and his friend Toni Aranes, 50.

Pensioner Wim Braamse usually spends his days volunteering at the Heatherdale Children’s Home and reading to children at Thornton Road Primary School, but when his bicycle was stolen, it all changed.

Mr Braamse went to have photocopies made at Macbat Digital Printing, in Belgravia Road, on Monday October 10, at 3pm.

But when he came out of the printing shop 10 minutes later, his bicycle was no longer leaning against the wall where he had left it unchained.

A Wembley Roadhouse security guard told him he had seen a man racing off on a bicycle toward St Athans Road.

Mr Braamse said he had called the Athlone police several times and waited for more than an hour after they assured him they would come out to the scene of the theft, but never did.

Mr Braamse and his friend, Toni Aranes, went to the police station after 7pm to report the theft and get a case number.

Sergeant Zita Norman from Athlone police confirmed that a case had been opened.

Mr Braamse said the bike, a Giant Hybrid worth R6 500, was insured. It is black with light blue lining, has front and back lights and aluminium pedals.

Mr Braamse and Belgravia Neighbourhood Watch chairman Riyaad Petersen went to an informal settlement, known as “The Vlei”, towards Johnson Road later that same evening to look for the bike, but they found no sign of it.

“We went into The Vlei and also into Kewtown but found no sign of the bike. We feel very sorry for him because it is his only form of transport,” said Mr Petersen.

The 64-year-old battles with very poor eyesight and can’t drive, so the bicycle was his only way of getting around.

Ms Aranes said something many took for granted had now been taken away from her friend.

“We are used to just getting and up and going … now he can’t do that. It is as if his feet have been chopped off. It is so wrong and unfair. He needs his bicycle to travel,” Ms Aranes said.