When Austrian couple Klaus and Johanna Michl took a stroll at Noordhoek Beach on Thursday afternoon, their aim was to enjoy the sunshine before beginning the countdown to the end of their three-month holiday in South Africa.
It was a beautiful day and the pair of pensioners from Mondsee in Upper Austria just wanted to enjoy the beauty of the coastline one last time when their sightseeing was interrupted by a knife-wielding man who stabbed them and took their belongings.
Klaus, 63, was stabbed three times in the abdomen, once in the side and chest, and his wife Johanna, 68, in her neck. Klaus’s abdominal injuries were deep, affecting his intestines.
Bleeding, shocked and confused, they tried to find their way back to where their stroll started when a local woman walking her dogs came to their aid.
Their assailant, who came from the sand dunes, fled with the couple’s backpack which had travel documents, a camera and other valuables inside.
“He did not say anything to us, he just started attacking us. He was aggressive, I did not understand why,” Klaus said.
The dog walker helped call an ambulance and police but the police never came.
Without the necessary identity documents and proof that they could afford private hospital care, which was nearest to where they were, the couple said they were simply glad to have survived.
Speaking to Weekend Argus in the ICU unit at Melomed Tokai Hospital on Friday night, the couple fought back tears, expressing how grateful they were to be alive.
“In an incident like this, it is not about money, it’s about being alive.
“We are grateful to this hospital and the nurses and doctors who have been helping us since we were admitted yesterday (on Friday),” said Klaus.
“From when the knife was going into my body to walking to the parking where we got into the ambulance, I was numb and shocked.
“Only when they were administering first aid did I realise how serious it was,” he said.
The couple had been looking forward to spending the afternoon in Noordhoek, having visited most of the Western Cape’s tourist attractions.
They arrived in September and spent time admiring the whales in Hermanus, Johanna said.
The couple also visited the Garden Route and the West Coast. They hiked in Oudtshoorn, Clanwilliam and Montague and enjoyed the wine route in the Winelands.
They were left with seven days to complete their stay when the traumatic incident happened.
Sister Elisa Hendricks of Melomed Tokai said the couple were in a state of shock when they arrived.
“The lady underwent an emergency operation last night and again this morning,” she said.
“The gentleman also underwent surgery last night. They are both stable but we will continue to observe them for another few days,” Hendricks said.
Police spokesperson Noloyiso Rwexana said the SAPS was not aware of the incident.