Ok so there’s been a bunch of talk and debate about a Canadian tourist, Mike Howard, who claims he was robbed of $3000 in Cape Town and has set up a crowdfunding page called Please help Mike get back to Canada. His story of the ordeal is every tourist’s nightmare and involves being robbed, gassed (yes i’ll get to that bit further down) and chased. On top of that he claims the hostel he was staying in, the Cape Town police and the CCID refused to help him. His crowdfunding page has already recieved $245 in donations, but has generated plenty of debate on whether his story is legit or a scam. Now i havn’t done any investigative journalism in terms of contacting the people involved and i’m not going to. I just wanna throw in my 2 cents and hear what you have to say. And also because he says he’s from Montreal in Canada..which many of you will know is my second home.
Ok so here’s his story…brace yourself because it is surreal.
“I was staying at 179 Loop Street Hostel for the week, 3,000 US dollars were stolen from me (I don’t have a South African bank account, so I was unfortunately keeping it on me, before I got back to my hostel.) I confronted the person who stole my money and I had absolutely no help with security (CCID) or the police for that matter. I tried explaining to the security that I had been robbed and I asked them to contact the police so I can file a report. The CCID were extremely hesitant to do this, because they knew the man who stole my money. I started to piece things together very easily. I explained to them that I needed the police to come to my location and they denied me about four times. I called myself and the police came 45 minutes later- As I try to tell them that I had just been mugged and that I need to file a police report, they ask me ‘why are you even here?’ (Long/Loop st) while being smug. I explain to the police officer that I am here. I explained that I was new to town and despite me knowing or not knowing where in what areas I were to ‘be’ in was irrelevant. The fact of the matter was that i was robbed. I start to realize that the Nigerian man (and his friends) were well acquainted with the CCID and the police that I thought were coming to help me.
After the police deny me the right to file a police report, I began walking home. A CCID security card calls on his walkie-talkie and waves over across the street, where I can see a man acknowledging and putting a gun into his pants and getting into a car and pulling out quickly.
I was chased back to my hostel, 179 Loop Street (http://www.179loop.co.za/) where you are only allowed to get in with a fingerprint. I used my fingerprint to get into the door and I saw that a CCID security guard and two men were still chasing after me. I ran in the hostel (where nobody was at the front desk at night) and automatically ran into the mens room to hide.
I was gassed for 5 hours as they tried to get me out of the bathroom and all I could do was hold a jacket that I was luckily wearing over my face and breathe as slow as humanly possible and not move. I vividly remember during those five hours that these people who were trying to hurt me were fighting with some of the people from the hostel.I thought I was going to die in that bathroom, but at 7 in the morning, I heard them slowly start to leave once they couldn’t find exactly where I was or what bathroom I was in. I eventually came out and a housekeeper who was just starting her shift consoles me. She was the only person at 179 Loop Street that acknowledged what had happened. The rest of the employees and management have went on and pretend absolutely nothing has happened.
I went right upstairs to drink as much water as humanly possible and I started packing my things. I was sidetracked when I heard somebody screaming on the other side of the room. It was an employee who was cleaning the room and was explaining that he still needed to ‘pick me off’ to another employee. Because of the paper thin walls, I hear a man enter the room (it was another guest, who was staying with his wife on the other side of the hall) and bravely tells the man that he isn’t going to do anything. After hearing over and over again how I need to be ‘picked off’, I grabbed my things and headed outside.”
That’s only half of it…read the rest HERE.
Some folks on social media platforms however are skeptical and pointed out a few things.
- that Canadian tourists can’t travel to SA without a return ticket so why does he need the money to get a new one and not just return on the ticket he arrived with
- even if he doesn’t have a ticket why does he need $3000 when a ticket to Canada costs half that
- why does he not just go to the Canadian High Commission who would certainly help in this situation
There were some other points that raised flags like the fact that his Facebook page shows updates and comments that Cape Town is ‘so so magical’..after the incident took place. Strange behaviour for someone who underwent such a traumatic ordeal.
That and the also that he has another crowdfunding page called Montreal, A Love Story. It’s empty, but suspicious no?
Now in his defence Mike does state on the gofundme page that he has been speaking to the public prosecuter for the past 2 weeks. He lists her email address.
I know some other more thorough journalists have done a better investigation and actually contacted the relevated parties involved. Will link to it when they publish it.. Very interested to hear the responses.
What do you think?
UPDATE: HERE is a much more concise article on the story. Including interviews with Mike Howard and the hostel owner who apparently is not as honest as he makes out to be.