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Mob pushes injured young man from train

A young man was attacked and pushed from a moving train in Somerset West last week.

Darryn August (27) was beaten and robbed on Monday 25 April at 10:00, just before the train he was travelling in reached Somerset West.

His assailants then pushed him from the train and he was found two hours later by a group of maintenance workers.

August is currently in Tygerberg Hospital, awaiting a transfer to Groote Schuur Hospital.

Laticia Pienaar, spokesperson for Tygerberg Hospital, confirmed Dreyer’s admission to the hospital last Monday.

“He (August) was admitted with multiple fractures, including spinal injuries. He is currently in a stable condition,” she said.

Andrew Dreyer, a foreman for a maintenance company, said he noticed August lying alongside the railway line about 400 m from Somerset West Railway Station, where his team was working at noon.

“‘My broer is jy oraait?’, I shouted to him, and he lifted his arms giving me the thumbs up,” Dreyer recalled hisinitial encouter withAugust before he returned to his bakkie parked nearby. A few minutes later, a worker contacted him on his radio, informing him of August’s injuries.

“I rushed back and he told me of the attack and robbery, in which his cellphone was stolen,” Dreyer said.

August was apparently knocked unconscious when flung against a tree, and regained consciousness shortly before Dreyer discovered him.

He managed to phone police from another cellphone still in his possession.

According to Dreyer, police arrived on the scene shortly afterwards. He, however, said that despite police phoning for an ambulance minutes later, it arrived only about two hours later.

“He [August] was lying on his back, unable to move,” Dreyer said. “He held onto my pants and wouldn’t let go.”

Robert Daniels, spokesperson for Emergency Medical Services, denied that the ambulance arrived two hours after being summoned.

Daniels said a call was received at 13:50 and an ambulance in the vicinity was despatched to the scene within 10 minutes.

Dreyer has been visiting August daily since the attack.

“I went to Helderberg Hospital on Tuesday and ran into the paramedic who had treated Darryn,” he said. “He told me Darryn had been transferred to Tygerberg Hospital’s Trauma Unit the same evening, and that he had spinal injuries.”

Dreyer tracked the young man down at Tygerberg and visited August’s family in Hazendal, Athlone, where he lived, to inform them of the accident, after August had told him that his family was unaware of his attack, and they had not been to the hospital.

“I have been praying for him since,” Dreyer said, “God will ensure a miracle.”

Edwin Brooks, August’s younger brother, said he works as a peer education facilitator for the Somerset West NGO the Institute of Social Concerns, which is based at the Bizweni Church. August facilitates workshops at Macassar and Gordon High schools, and previously lived at the church’s campus, but moved to Hazendal at the beginning of the year.

Brooks said a group of about eight men wielding baseball bats and knives robbed commuters in the third-class carriage on the day of his brother’s attack.

“Darryn was robbed on the train before, and that is why he resisted and decided not to hand his belongings over this time,” he explained.

“‘I couldn’t help myself, I don’t know why I didn’t just let it be,’ Darryn told me.”.

He said August was stabbed in the head, right shoulder and lung.

“He was thrown from the train that was travelling at about 60km/h, hitting a tree and was unconscious for about two hours,” Brooks said.

He said August still had a second phone on him from which he managed to phone police. Brooks said his brother was transferred to a general ward last Thursday.

According to Sergeant Suzan Jantjies, spokesperson for Somerset West police, an investigation into an attempted murder and robbery is underway.

“A group of men entered the train at Faure station and one of the men asked the complainant for the time,” Jantjies related, adding that August decided to move to another carriage.

He was, however, beaten to the floor before being robbed of his bag containing his iPhone and other personal items.

“The men then threw him out of the moving train,” said Jantjies.

Metrorail spokesperson Riana Scott said the service had no record of August’s attack, but would investigate the incident.

“Underreporting of crime does not help us the police to secure more resources,” she said. “The most effective way to prove that additional resources are required is to be able to prove it through statistics.”

According to Scott, security on trains is allocated according to priorities determined at weekly meetings between Metrorail Protection Services and police.

She urges commuters to report criminal activities on trains.

“Crime is on the increase and rail precincts are unfortunately not exempted from criminal attempts,” Scott pointed out.

“Unless communities work with us and the police on sustainable solutions, crime would simply shift from trains and stations to surrounding neighbourhoods.”

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