Police have confirmed they are looking for a man caught on CCTV in Bo-Kaap, Cape Town at the time a French woman was mugged, robbed of her backpack and stabbed in the neck.
In CCTV footage of the attack around 09:58 on Tuesday, which has been circulated on social media, a man wearing a black hoodie and blue jeans is seen walking up to the woman, talking to her briefly and then stabbing her.
He is seen wrestling a backpack from her before running down Chiappini Street, which usually draws tourists daily.
The woman lies on the pavement for a short while before a man and woman spot her and rush to help.
Also circulating on social media and neighbourhood watch WhatsApp groups is a still of a man dressed in a similar outfit and with a backpack slung over one shoulder, which appears to originate from other footage in the area.
Captain FC van Wyk confirmed that they are looking for the man in the still as a person of interest.
The French Embassy in South Africa said that tourism safety informed it about the attack around 13:00 that day.
READ MORE: French woman violently attacked in Bo-Kaap
“We immediately went to the… hospital where the victim was taken to. We got some information about her physical and mental condition and could talk to her personally,” embassy spokesperson Yana Brugier told News24.
“It was essential for us to make sure that the victim was okay and that she felt supported. Contact of a psychologist was also offered.”
On the French government’s dedicated page for visitors to South Africa, it warns under the Cape Town section that tourists should be vigilant in Bo Kaap, Woodstock and Observatory during the day and night as “several thefts and assaults were reported there”.
The page also notes generally that a sharp increase in robberies and attacks against French tourists or residents has been observed in the Johannesburg region but also in the Western Cape and Eastern Cape provinces.
It is understood that Cape Town Tourism visited the stabbing victim in hospital this week.
Asked to confirm this visit and comment on whether the attack might scare off visitors, the tourism body said it played an active, supportive role in optimising visitor safety in the city.
“While the primary role in safety belongs to [police] and local law enforcement agencies, we collaborate where possible to achieve more,” it told News24.
“The contribution of tourism is significant to the economy and a big challenge for us is the perceptions of safety, and incidents such as this are a detriment to the good work done by all relevant stakeholders in the tourism industry. We are monitoring the situation and will provide support where necessary.”