Mystery: Man returned from walk with head wound, died days later

2008-10-01 00:00

What happened to 70-year-old Schalk Hagen of Bisley when he went for his usual morning walk in Bisley Game Reserve on Thursday, March 6, this year?

That’s the mystery police and Hagen’s family are desperately trying to uncover, after he returned home two hours later with a serious head wound and died some days later.

Hagen, father to three children and grandfather to seven, returned from his walk with his skull cracked on both sides and he had a deep, bloody head wound.

He was disoriented and unable to tell his shocked wife, Aletha (66), what had happened to him.

Aletha said he left their home in Buckley Road for his walk at around 9 am.

“Just after 11 am, I realised he was sitting on a step outside the back door. His head was covered with dried blood. It was not dripping and I saw he had a deep wound on his head.”

Aletha said she was not sure if he had been unconscious at all before he got home, but although he knew who she was, he was unable to provide any clues as to what had happened to him, other than to say in Afrikaans, “I ran away”.

“I asked him if he had fallen, or if a giraffe had kicked him,” said Aletha. “He couldn’t answer. All I know is that he was running away from something.

“He didn’t want to go to the doctor or to the hospital initially. I cleaned his wound and bandaged it, and later we took him to the doctor and he was given 14 or 15 stitches to the wound on his head.”

Hagen was referred first to Northdale Hospital, where he had x-rays that showed that his skull was cracked on both sides.

“He was then transferred to Grey’s for a CT-scan, which revealed he had blood on his brain.” The doctors finally transferred Hagen to Albert Luthuli Hospital a week later.

“He was admitted there on the Thursday. We visited him every day. On the Sunday, they operated to try and relieve the pressure on his brain. The doctors told us he had massive brain damage and he died on the Monday. It was terrible.”

Aletha says she would just like to know what happened to her husband. How did he get home in that condition? He had to cross a main road and walk along roads populated with houses. Did no one see him? Did anyone help him?

“I am trying to cope. I have hard days, when I cry my heart out,” she said. “It would help with closure if I could just know what happened to Schalk that morning. If we discovered it was an animal, for instance, we could warn others about walking in the reserve.”

Police spokeswoman Inspector Joey Jeevan said police are appealing to anyone who may have any information on what transpired during Hagen’s walk, to contact Inspector Vis Naiker of the Alexandra Road Detective Services at 033 845 7720 or on his cellphone at 079 075 6356.

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