Foreigner loses eye on Cape Town train

2012-03-27 10:05

Cape Town - A Dutch man lost an eye after he was hit by a rock on a Metrorail train and was then referred from one hospital to another.

The accident happened at about 18:20 last Wednesday on train number 3217 from Cape Town to Strand.

Jorrit de Vries was hit in the eye by a rock that was allegedly thrown from another train between the Koeberg Road station and Maitland station.

According to his girlfriend, Loraine van der Merwe, he was only operated on at Tygerberg hospital on Saturday after being placed on a waiting list. He had been to two other hospitals.

“Doctors on Monday gave him the news that they would have to remove his eye,” she said.


Roger de Coito witnessed the incident and helped De Vries. He said a rock was thrown from another train and De Vries was hit in the face.

“When we stopped at the Maitland station, the security guard on the train asked De Vries to get off. Security guards would then supposedly take him to hospital but no one helped us at the station.”

An ambulance picked De Vries up at 19:30 and took him to the Vincent Pallotti hospital. There he was apparently shown the door because they didn’t have R2 500 for hospital admission on them. He was then sent to the Hottentots Holland hospital where he was given stitches.

He was then transferred to Tygerberg hospital, where he underwent an operation on Saturday.

Metrorail regional manager in the Western Cape, Mthuthuzeli Swartz, expressed his concern about the incident. “The incident is being investigated by senior management members to establish what really happened.

“I am worried about the way in which De Vries was allegedly helped. Metrorail does not approve of this behaviour by staff.”

More than 15 commuters have been injured this year in accidents on trains and 10 have died. In the latest incident, an unknown woman fell in front of a train in Mitchells Plain on Friday.

Metrorail senior manager Eddie Chinnappen warned commuters to be careful near railways. He said Metrorail regularly held safety campaigns to help prevent such incidents.

- Have you had a similar experience? Send us your story.

  • Marion - 2012-03-27 10:20

    This is such a tragic event. Three days before he could have his eye attended to properly is atrocious. Also, the Constitution states quite clearly that no one may be refused emergency medical treatment. It doesn't say that if you don't have the required fee you can be refused treatment. He should sue Vincent Palotti hospital and possibly even Hottentot Hollands hospital.

      Ryan - 2012-03-27 12:48

      Oom Kriel, you are quite incorrect. The constitution applies to all people within South Africa, whether visitors, citizens, residents, etc. For it to be otherwise would be unconstitutional!!

      Fanie - 2012-03-27 19:04

      I've worked for a multinational company in SA that professes to hold the constitution of the country in high esteem ...until you read it back to them. Europe must do to Africa what they wish Africa to do to them. That way, the scales will be balanced.

      gillian.sabino1 - 2012-03-27 22:52

      Over 40 hospitals closed because the state never paid for the emergency treatment provided in emergencies. It is 1 thing to have a great constitution and another to have a government that complies with it. Even today the comrades tsotsis want to get past the constitution and reduce us to slaves of the anc.

  • Squeegee - 2012-03-27 10:24

    Great PR for SA. We just love shooting ourselves in the foot.

      Ryan - 2012-03-27 10:44

      I agree in terms of the incident on the train, if he was in England, France or any other country he would have been in the same situation, their private hospitals work the same way and their gov hospitals also work with waiting lists, I almost bled to death waiting for help in a british hospital when i severed an artery in my arm, i was made to wait because the injury did not look severe, small punture wound it was only when i started to quirt blood again that they rushed me to theatre.

      Thoka - 2012-03-27 11:15

      it helps to travel sometimes. we run our mouth not thinking at times. its sad that we put money before lives,

      infijar.ken - 2012-03-27 14:00

      Nice to see the Catholic Nuns showing their customary humanity! Ryan, you didn't bleed to death... Also, all Private Hospitals in the UK refer all A&E to NHS Hospitals. This includes any Emergencies that may have occurred on their operating tables.

      Alexander - 2012-03-27 16:55

      @Ryan. When you talk about England at least get your facts straight. The Government hospitals here do not work on waiting lists as you do not know health is free and if it was the case here not only would he have top treatment ambulance service on site but the A&E would have sorted out the problem in no time thus saving his sight. I had a relative many times in hospital due to his heath condition and I know what I am talking about which is more than can be said by you. Just the fact that many hospitals still have the time to treat the drunks as well just shows you there is no waiting list and you are making up excuses for the crap treatment the Dutch man unfortunately got in SA. Gone is the SWC 2010 and back we are to the SA everyone is ashamed of.

      celeste.rsa - 2012-03-27 19:25

      @infijar - it's owned by LifeCare now, no longer the nuns, that could account for the total lack of humanity.

      Joan - 2012-03-28 12:08

      @Alexander - you need to get your facts straight - not Ryan. The NHS is definitely not the wonderful institution you believe it to be. Your relative is fortunate to be receiving decent treatment. I am from the UK, I still have most of my family there, and in fact my aunt and cousin are nurses in NHS hospitals and even they will tell you horror stories. My mother fell and broke 2 vertabrae in her neeck and fractured her skull 10 years ago in the UK. The XRay was not clear, but the doctor would not let a nurse re Xray her, and 3 days later discharged her with a supply of panadol - panado in SA. She was in absolute agony and no one would listen to her. Someone referred her to a chiropractor - he could have easily killed her or paralyzed her for life by manipulating her nect - he actually restrained her on the bed in order to manipulate, while she screamed in agony. Every doctor she saw basically tried to tell her the pain was in her head. Eventually I brought her back to SA, and took her to see a Neuro in JHB who had helped me a lot in the past. He did an immediate MRI and saw that her neck had now fused in a very unnatural and uncomfortable position, and due to her age, he could not operate to fix it. Basically, NHS is as much of a hit and miss as our government hospitals. Under funded, staff underpaid and over worked, under resourced. My mom lives on pain killers every day of her life due to the incompetency of the NHS.

      Alexander - 2012-03-30 17:16

      @Joan.Is it the same NHS that many doctors and nurses came from around the world to work in. The same terrible NHS that people came from Europe and other parts of the world to receive treatment because they can not get it in their countries. I think you and Ryan need a reality check. To assume that your mom is painkillers is a shame but your mom would have been checked by a district nurse which is common and is missing in your "tale".Your mom would have been seen by the district nurse something you people do not have there if your story is to be believed. That is how the NHS works but then you have proved that you do not know about it. Another issue is that everyone is entitled to a GP here in the UK. Where is this fact in your story? Still you and Ryan's fantasy version of the NHS is a coward's excuse to cover up the failings of lack of care of the man loosing his eye as he was sent from place to place, something that it would not have happened in a civilized country.

  • Sharon - 2012-03-27 10:34

    How sad for him! I don't understand what compels people to throw rocks at trains. We went by train from Germiston to Durban once and the conductor asked us to close the metal slats over the windows. He showed us the scar on his face when he was hit by a rock. As we pulled out of Germiston station the sound of rocks hitting the train was deafening!

      darryl.maze1 - 2012-03-27 10:58

      Well sharon thats South Africa for you. We live in a sociaty where ppl burn trains, schools, necklass ppl, mutilate humans and much more. It is becoming like the rest of africa. Its also disgusting that they turned him away because he did not have R2500, that to me is sickening, yet let a criminal get shot and he gets the best treatment. I hope he sues the crap out of our healthcare system.Hospitals are there to save lives but they care more about money than life, just like the rest of our corrupt government. I just sickens me at how this beautiful country is being run into the ground and its gonna keep getting worse.

      Toni - 2012-03-27 11:32

      Tut Tut Sharon, this is how bad publicity for SA citizens happens. The EYEWITNESS, his friend said the rock was thrown up by a passing train...

      Sharon - 2012-03-27 11:37

      He said a rock was thrown from another train and De Vries was hit in the face. Show me the "up" in that sentence and I'll buy you a beer!

  • Ryan - 2012-03-27 10:38

    If the Injury was not life threatening then they were well within their right to refuse treatment the only time they cannot is when the patients injury/illness is life threatening then they are obliged to stabilise the patient and when able to, transfer them to a gov hosp. If his injury was life threatening they would have admitted him.

      Marion - 2012-03-27 10:46

      This was an emergency in the sense that the guy's eye had been very badly injured. 27.3 of the Bill of Rights states : No one may be refused emergency medical treatment. It doesn't say 'in the case of life threatening injuries'.

      Mzwandile - 2012-03-27 11:01

      More reasons for the National Health Insurance. If it was implemented this guys could have been asissted as the hospital could have claimed from NHI. Everyone must have access to quality healthcare. I am sorry for the guy.

      Heiku - 2012-03-27 11:08

      So Marion we can all go to private hospitals for free then? No need for medical aid?

      Tanie - 2012-03-27 11:10

      Marion, I told you that the constitution is not a universal law. What protect that Dutch is the travel insurance if he had any.

      delia.james.vermaak - 2012-03-27 11:11

      The injury threatened the quality of his life!

      Marion - 2012-03-27 11:26

      Heiku - I never said anything about admitting him, I said he was entitled to emergency medical treatment. He could have been transferred to a good government hospital after that initial treatment had been administered. @Oom Kriel - It seems he can't have had medical insurance or he would have been able to come up with the required fee.

      Ryan - 2012-03-27 11:34

      @ Marion i do agree with you but I do think that the act relates to gov hospitals and the code of ethics for private hospitals state what i said before. A hospital will not just admit you with out a doctor seeing the patient and according to the story he could not pay the R2500 admission fee, that in itself tells me that he saw the doctor at the emergency room he just couldnt be admitted because of financial reasons. If they refused to let him see the doctor i would have agreed with you 100% The E.R cannot just turn him away but the hospital can refuse to admit him if he cannot pay.

      Ryan - 2012-03-27 11:38

      @ Marion and Oom Kriel When you have travel insurance you pay upfront and claim back from the insurance Unless it has change in the last 2 years. If he had medical insurance in holland maybe they could have worked something out.

      Arthur - 2012-03-27 15:00

      Ryan - it may well be "life threatening" if he NEEDS his eye to work and survive. Let's say, if he was a pilot, or an artist, draftsman, sharp shooter - whatever. I would certainly sue the hell out of each of those hospitals that turned me away, plus metrorail for their incompetence.

      celeste.rsa - 2012-03-27 16:30

      @ Ryan, the act relates to all hospitals, not just government hospitals. The sad thing is that these hospitals care more about their profits than patient care. Shame on Vincent Pallotti!

      nsda29 - 2012-03-28 09:14

      Wasn't there a doctor available to attend to the eye, pay the consultation fee, then refer him to another hospital if it requires surgery. One of my neighbors broke his arm while trying to stop a fight, it was the early hrs of the morning but at Claremont hospital they told him they cant help him if he doesn't have R2500. so He waited until he saw the 1st taxi to take him to Groote Schuur hospital!

  • Julie - 2012-03-27 11:13

    Certain people in this country are very good at throwing rocks as well as using matches!

      Fanie - 2012-03-27 19:06

      ...and certain people are good at selling matches.

  • wkleppan - 2012-03-27 11:19

    Metrofail getting you to work late, not at all or in pieces!!!

  • Dale - 2012-03-27 11:25

    There is an increasing devaluation on human life and dignity in this country... We are becoming a selfish and discriminative nation always blaming others and the past for our own misfortunes. This is a foreigner in our country, I assure you that had this happened to me in his country- I would have been given the dignity and respect the situation deserves.

      Ryan - 2012-03-27 11:40

      I agree 100% with you as long as you went to their government hospital, no matter which country you are in private hospitals work the same, in some instances even if you have medical insurance they ask for a deposit.

      siyadyosiba - 2012-03-27 12:55

      I'm not condoning this act and surely dissapointed with the way he was treated in our hospitals. I however want us to be realistic, private hospitals in SA do not just accept patients without assurance that the med bill will be footed. I hope your belief that in Dutch countries they dont operate the same way is true. Its unfortunate that they did not have enough money or med aid arrangements before they came. Its a sad story.

  • zipho500 - 2012-03-27 11:35

    Why didnt he buy a travel insurance before he came here.i always get one when i travel abroad so i get the best care in in any hospital abroad .am sure he wanted sympathy for him.sorry

      betsy.compaan - 2012-03-27 11:51

      Wow so a simple lack of travel insurance is allowing you to have no sympathy for a man that lost his eye due to people throwing rocks at moving trains? Guess he should have known that South Africans are vicious animals huh? I bet you are proud of the global image we as South Africans are portraying thru articles like this. Just remember that it's not just South Africans reading these forums and that unsympathetic comments like yours are a representation of the problem in SA.

      Shirley - 2012-03-27 14:04

      Hey Zipho-for your info he has lived here for a year,has medical aid and next time you are overseas stay there with your condesending attitude!

      celeste.rsa - 2012-03-27 16:14

      He loses and eye and you accuse the man of wanting freebies??? You are a bloody chop!

      Xboxs - 2012-03-27 17:10

      And you are a doctor? surprise there, you are afterall a South African(inconsiderate and selfish)

  • Tim - 2012-03-27 11:39

    The's right you stupid South Africans - do you best to make tourists scared to visit SA. As you are all so damned thick, let me remind you 10 tourists means one job!! Mr. de Vries next time go to Kenya as this bunch of idiots dont want you or your money!

      Heiku - 2012-03-27 11:49

      At least we have roads. I was in Nairobi recently and there is no highway I was stuck in traffic for 4 hours getting out of the airport. Then we went onto "the bypass" which is a gravel road with the biggest speed bumps ive ever seen.

      Debbi - 2012-03-27 13:05

      Nowhere to run, the Somalians are kidnapping in Kenya!

      Xboxs - 2012-03-27 17:13

      @Heiku, Yes there are no roads in Kenya as per you assumption but at least they don't shoot you dead for your cell phone or rape two month old babies.I will take safe kenya any day over violent SA.

      Fanie - 2012-03-27 19:12

      Statistics, statistics, jobs are lost thru tourists talking badly about SA once they are back to their point of origin? many tourists visit SA to exploit it? many tourists cause over-crowding in this country?

  • TheyTookMyNickLaZynEko - 2012-03-27 11:44

    oh no this is tragic :(

  • Shirley - 2012-03-27 12:02

    My,my South Africa sure have a way of making tourists feel at home! Now he can return home with only one eye and tell all the future would be tourists to stay the hell away from our "friendly and helpful" country. I wish him all the best and would love to tell him this incident was the exeption to the rule but cannot as this is the reality!

  • Nyiks11 - 2012-03-27 12:09

    Thats Cape Town for you , not refugee friendly

  • Wade - 2012-03-27 12:26

    But we must use public transport?

  • SJ - 2012-03-27 12:27

    No cctv? Catch the bastard and charge him with attempted murder!

  • Gareth - 2012-03-27 12:28

    Geez, this is random hey! Bad luck, speedy recovery.

  • jorrit.vries - 2012-03-27 12:33

    Dear all, I'm go South Africa for almost a year now. I'm working and pay tax. I HAVE insurance where I pay R1000 a month for. The first hospital didn't accept my card. Please people. Know your personsability. Something like this will never happen in europe. Please think what kind of impact this will have for me, my family and the rest of my life. Thats all I have to, and want to say. Thank you very much. Gr from the Dutch guy with one eye

      Shirley - 2012-03-27 13:07

      Jorrit: As a born South African I want to offer my sympathies for your loss! I cannot begin to imagine what it must be like.What happened to you should NOT happen to ANYONE,unfortunately South Africa is becoming famous for all the wrong reasons! I feel you have been let down by Metro rail,the hospital which turned you away and by some of the people on this site with their awful comments! However Sir,we are not all like this and hope that you are able to recover fully!

      Xboxs - 2012-03-27 17:15

      Jorrit ,stay away from SA,these folk are mean spirited i tell you.There are many countries in Africa where you can spend your holidays and be show compassion with having to pay a dime.

      Fanie - 2012-03-27 18:42

      In every country you visit or tour, it is always good planning to familiarize yourself with do's and don'ts. Um not condoning the act in this case but having spent 4 years in Capetown, I quickly learned what precautions to take, what places to avoid, what means of transport to use etc. Most European cities are full of opportunists (for lack of a better word) and anyone who comes to Africa and South Africa in particular with a wish list full of Western values and best practices is expecting too much. Anyone assuming that SA will loose loads of forex true tourists is short-sighted. More flights and more tourists have landed in SA since the Dewani incident and more might just keep flowing to do a "Dewani" in this beautiful country.

  • hilton.baartman - 2012-03-27 12:37

    Rather unfortunate what happened. Especially the tardy service from Metrorail officials and the subsequent delay in treating him at Somerset and Tygerberg. However, people you need to understand the private hospital incident is NOT unique to SA. It's the same everywhere else.

      Gcwabe.KaMavovo - 2012-03-27 16:28

      What utter crock. These guys refused him treatment because of some silly admission fee, which I'm sure he would've been able to pay afterwards. the result? He lost his eye.

  • spencer.nel.stevens - 2012-03-27 12:53

    This is sad!! I've seen this guy before, he's a really friendly, down-to-earth guy. Why would anyone want to throw rocks?! :(

  • gmakam - 2012-03-27 13:17

    stop comparing south africa with europe...the same thing might happen in europe,bt bcoz its south africa,u go all strongly negative abt it

      Shirley - 2012-03-27 13:36

      I take it you have both your eyes?

      mholthuysen - 2012-03-27 14:02

      @ gmakam There is one thing which is LOST in this country - and that is responsibility. NO a person with such an injury will not be send from pillar to post anywhere else in the world BUT here - as there are ETHICS to assist people with injuries. And since there are no more ethics in the beloved country an explanation what ethics are: "Ethics, also known as moral philosophy, is a branch of philosophy that involves systematizing, defending, and recommending concepts of right and wrong behavior." This Dutch dude could have been helped in the first hospital - and they probably would have saved his eye!

      Fanie - 2012-03-27 18:48

      gmakam makes a good point and this is not direct to the casualty but the people discussing the incident in this forum. More people have been harmed, killed, I'll-treated in the past hour and they may not feature in any forum but their dignity is no less than that of the person affected by this horrible incident.

  • roberta.keeling - 2012-03-27 13:19


  • mholthuysen - 2012-03-27 13:46

    Welcome to South Africa - here you get the real experience - locked up for bath salts last week, now get a rock thrown in your face this week. What is the slogan for SA Tourism - South Africa - It's possible!

      Shirley - 2012-03-27 14:05

      More like you are in for a rocking good time!

  • manyanyaphiri - 2012-03-27 14:00


  • Nyiks11 - 2012-03-27 14:06

    Cape Town Rrrrocks , NOT . .

      Koos - 2012-03-27 17:16

      You know how they say “White men can’t jump”. Well “White men can’t throw rocks” either.

  • nicky.derfoldyleutenegger - 2012-03-27 14:11

    shockingly tragic!!!!

  • ludlowdj - 2012-03-27 14:17

    Welcome to the future of South African health care under the NHI. Of course one need to accept that the international liberal movement towards enforced multiculturalism means that with the mass influx of non whites into almost all spheres of low income occupations, state hospitals the world over are now little better than the lack of service we get here

  • Jack - 2012-03-27 15:43

    Same old story and I quote “When we stopped at the Maitland station, the security guard on the train asked De Vries to get off. Security guards would then supposedly take him to hospital but no one helped us at the station.” Why the hell do people come to South Africa, IF YOU VALUE YOUR LIFE STAY AWAY!

  • Sharleen - 2012-03-27 16:07

    This is disgusting and sad.

  • Ashliegh - 2012-03-27 16:23

    people wont stop being chldish how could u throw rocks on a moving train wat benefit u gonna get by hurting pple *sigh*

  • phathuchicos - 2012-03-27 16:29

    auch sorry...hope you you come back again

      Koos - 2012-03-27 17:13

      Except for the Western Cape I haven’t vacationed in South Africa in about 10 years and judging from what I’ve seen in the Sothern part of Mozambique I’m not the only one. Honestly South Africa isn’t safe, it’s dirty, smells funny and the water resembles sewage water more than anything else. Namibia isn’t all that bad either. This is nothing new .... and the best part is most of the other places are cheaper. Azanian is right. Don’t come here. There are better places to go.

  • Clifford - 2012-03-27 16:58

    Did no-one warn him about how dangerous it is to travel on Metrorail? Did no-one warn him how incompetent and uncaring our health system is? Did no-one warn him that people die in this country for no apparent reason?

      Fanie - 2012-03-27 18:53

      My point exactly.. I have been I'll-treated in Europe and mugged in the US and I never came back to mourn about lost tourist revenues to both goes on and um better prepared now each time I travel.

  • Ruan - 2012-03-27 19:44

    Rock-throwing....Sa's new national-sport !!

  • Lewis - 2012-03-27 20:59

    Sad story. In SA, if you(tourist(PC )) do not have R2500 or good medical insurance in order for you to be admitted/ consultation, you will die in the ambulance on your way to a public hospital, because unfortunately the hospital nearest to you was a Private hospital and they turned you away...

  • Lewis - 2012-03-27 21:01

    Sad story. In SA, if you(tourist(PC )) do not have R2500 or good medical insurance in order for you to be admitted/ consultation, you will die in the ambulance on your way to a public hospital, because unfortunately the hospital nearest to you was a Private hospital and they turned you away...

  • Janine - 2012-03-27 22:07

    How incredibly sad, and what a bad reflection on this country of ours. Where was the security on the other train? Why wasn't that train even stopped? I travel by train to Cape Town every day and the lack of security or even ticket staff is appalling. When is Metrorail going to wake up and take control of what is happening on their trains and provide a decent, safe service for the commuters.

  • Natasha - 2012-03-28 05:14

    The poor guy. I really feel for him. I would sue Metrorail. Unfortunately one needs to understand that pvt hospitals are ultimately businesses. "You don't have the cash- no deal" That's a world Norm.

  • pages:
  • 1