While Christmas shopping, man hears that brother has jumped at Howick Falls

2013-12-27 00:00

AN Albert Falls man, busy with Christmas shopping, received a call from a stranger telling him his younger brother had jumped into the gorge at Howick Falls.

Mbongeni Zondi says his brother Phakamani Zondi (25) jumped from the Howick Falls viewing area on Tuesday afternoon around 5.30 pm and crashed into the vegetation below. He suffered head injuries. His body was recovered by police the same night.

Zondi said he had spoken to his brother, who sounded “down”, no more than 10 minutes before he received the call from a stranger telling him that his brother had jumped.

“I was with my mother in town finishing Christmas shopping and heading home when I received a call from Phakamani. He told me he was stressed. I asked him where he was and what he was doing there … He told me I was asking him too many questions and he hung up,” said Zondi.

Zondi said he tried to call him back immediately but could not get hold of his brother.

“Ten minutes later I received a call from someone telling me that my brother had jumped off the falls viewing area.”

He had taken out his phone, wallet, sunglasses, earphones and driver’s licence and placed them on the wall. He wrote a short note to his brother, saying, “brother I love you” and had included his brother’s contact number.

Zondi said his family was devastated. “My mother was with me in the car as this was happening. There was no way to hide it from her and she was crying. We do not know why he did this, only he knows. Our sisters said he did not look all that well in the past few days but did not think something like this could happen.”

Sources at the scene said, “When he jumped, he got stuck about 50 to 52 metres (the fall is an estimated 90 metres) down. We got the call around six and it took about three hours to recover the body and we were also working in the dark.”

Howick police spokesperson Lolly Moodley confirmed the incident and said police were investigating.

Over the years the falls have been a regular suicide spot. Last month, Theresa Mbanjwa (35) jumped off the falls and died. Last year, Ronnie Zondi, an uMgungundlovu firefighter, risked his life saving a woman who apparently tried to commit suicide and got stuck on the edge of the falls. Ronnie was nominated for a bravery award following the rescue.

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