Commuter who tried to thwart robbery may not walk again

2016-05-07 07:27
Darryn August. (Supplied)

Darryn August. (Supplied)

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Cape Town – A man who was thrown from a moving train after he attempted to intervene when robbers hit commuters has been told he will never walk again.

But the family of Darryn August believes divine intervention will see him able to kick a soccer ball again with the children he coaches to keep them out of trouble.

August, from Athlone, was on his way to Somerset West last Monday where he works as a facilitator and teaches homeless children.

He and four other commuters were in a carriage when nine men boarded and robbed the passengers near Firgrove station. Darryn told a cousin that a heavily pregnant woman was among those being terrorised.

His brother Bernard told News24 that Darryn tried to talk the robbers out of it.

“It’s not in his nature to stand back and do nothing. If he sees something bad going down, he would always step in,” he said.

“But when he tried to intervene, one of the guys hit him with a crowbar. He tried to get up but he was stabbed in the head with a knife,” he said.

“Darryn lost consciousness for a few minutes and when he came to, he was being tossed out of the train.”

The 27-year-old hit a tree before he landed, breaking his spine.


While the robbers had taken his iPad, ID and some money, they hadn’t seen his cellphone in a side pocket of his backpack.

“As he lay there, he phoned emergency services before he passed out. He was found still lying there three hours later by a maintenance worker who also phoned for assistance.”

Darryn also suffered two collapsed lungs but fortunately escaped without any brain damage, Bernard said.

“Darryn is a vibrant person. He always laughed a lot but right now it is physically important for him not to laugh or even cough. It is painful to see that he can’t be the bubbly person he was. It eats at me.

“But the fact that he will never walk again has had the biggest effect on him. He cries a lot.”

Darryn underwent three-hour spinal surgery on Thursday, but the prognosis remains bleak.

“We were told he has a zero chance of using his legs again. He is currently still drowsy because of the morphine, but we are here for him. Recovery is possible. God will make the final decision.”

But the August family are determined to see the robbers caught.

“I am hoping to find the passengers who were on the carriage that day so that the suspects can be identified in some way. That’s all we want – justice for Darryn.”

Darryn August before the incident. (Supplied)

Bernard also slammed Metrorail and their lack of adequate security, saying the transport provider should take responsibility for the attack.

But spokesperson Riana Scott said resources on trains and stations are allocated strategically and cannot “be everywhere at once”.

“Metrorail’s regional static, mobile and/or undercover resources are allocated according to priorities determined at joint weekly meetings between Metrorail Protection Services and the police. Proactive deployment of security resources is based on security intelligence [and] reactive measures in response to reported incidents,” she said.

“Crime is on the increase in general and rail precincts are unfortunately not exempted from criminal attempts.”

Scott said that it can only cogently comment on Darryn’s case once all the facts of the incident have been established.

Western Cape police spokesperson Captain FC Van Wyk confirmed cases of robbery and attempted murder are being investigated.

Anyone with information is urged to phone investigating officer Maggie Puren at Somerset West police on (021) 850 1334/1325

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