Woman saved from suicide

2009-11-26 00:00

QUICK thinking by a group of wildlife guards from a game reserve in Camperdown saved a distraught woman’s life on Tuesday, just as she was in the act of hanging herself with a rope tied to a tree.

Johan Vermaak told The Witness that he was driving along a farm road in Camperdown with a group of trainee game guards when they noticed a woman sitting high up in the branches of a tree.

“We stopped the car and saw that she was crying. I started talking to her, asking her what was wrong, and we discovered a suicide note on the ground, in which she said farewell to everyone. I was saying to her ‘Please don’t jump’.”

They had also noticed a rope tied to a branch near to where she was perched in the tree.

Vermaak asked one of the trainee guards to climb the tree to get to where the sobbing woman was. But as the guard, 35-year-old Lungisani Maphanga, approached her, she grabbed the rope, pulled the noose around her neck and jumped from the tree.

Vermaak said Maphanga reached out and grabbed her as she fell, holding himself in the tree with one arm and clutching her with the other.

In the meantime, Vermaak found a knife and the other men helped to hold her up while they cut the rope.

Vermaak said it soon became apparent why she was so distressed.

“There were marks all over her body on her back and arms, made by a belt buckle. She told us her husband had beaten her with his belt.”

A relieved Maphanga said that although it was difficult to hold on to the woman while he was also clinging to the tree, he was happy he had caught her.

Vermaak immediately took the woman to the Camperdown police station for further help, but she declined to press charges, despite the encouragement of the police.

Police spokesman Senior ­Superintendent Henry Budhram said she told police that she and her husband had argued over a phone call she received from her brother.

“She refused to open a case, but asked police to accompany her to her home, where she packed her belongings, and said she would be travelling to her home in the Eastern Cape.”

But it has transpired that the woman did not leave the house. Vermaak reported that she was still at her home yesterday morning.

When The Witness tried to call her, her husband answered the phone.

Vermaak said they returned to check on her yesterday morning. “She thanked us for helping her, saying she had been driven to the suicide attempt because she could not take it anymore.”

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