Jack Haskins, fireman bring man down after hours on pylon

2008-05-18 00:00

A 21-year-old man who appeared to be mentally disturbed was rescued after spending about eight-and-a-half hours at the top of an electricity pylon alongside Moses Mabhida Road near Makro yesterday.

SAPS search and rescue unit Inspector Jack Haskins and Pietermaritzburg fireman Vusimuzi Shabalala succeeded in bringing the man down "with some difficulty" at about 2 pm yesterday.

Haskins said the power was turned off along the section of the pylon where the man had climbed, situated about 25 metres off the ground.

Members of the SAPS and fire department and various paramedics gathered at the scene of the drama from early morning, but attempts to talk the man down initially failed.

During the course of the morning, the man clapped his hands, danced and sang from his viewpoint, while those below him watched with bated breath, fearing he would fall, said photographer Shan Pillay.

Haskins told The Witness that when he and Shabalala eventually climbed up and tried to talk to the man, they could not get much sense out of him.

After a while, they managed to coax him closer to them, but he did not want to go down and kept "fighting" them off when they tried to persuade him to co-operate.

Haskins said he eventually resorted to putting handcuffs on the man and managed to get a harness and rope around him. They then effectively pushed him off the pylon so that he was dangling from the rope, which was then lowered to the ground.

It is not known what motivated him to climb up the pylon, said Haskins.

ingrido@witness.co.za

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