Family of man allegedly thrown from train desperate for answers

2019-03-28 10:53
Fabian, Ocean-Leigh and and Janine Karels. (Photo: Supplied)

Fabian, Ocean-Leigh and and Janine Karels. (Photo: Supplied)

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It was supposed to be a day of festivity for Janine Karels. Her husband of nine years, Fabian, would've turned 38 on March 25 but instead of celebrating his special day, she and the rest of the Karels family are mourning his untimely death.

And adding to their agony is that they don't have answers about what happened to him.

Fabian was travelling home from work by train earlier this year when he was allegedly thrown from the moving carriage in a botched robbery.

For several hours he lay battered beside the railway line before he was found by police.

He died five days later. According to doctors it was due to the severe head injuries he sustained but his family are none the wiser regarding how he ended up beside the track.

"We don't have closure," says his mother, Juanita. "If he was pushed out . . . well I can't do anything to those people. Their day will come. But I need to know what happened so I can move on."

Fabian had been working a late shift when he left Woolworths Head Office in Cape Town's CBD, where he worked in the call centre department, on 14 January.

He and Janine (33) had an agreement for whenever he took the 19:35 train from Cape Town to Blackheath – he texted her when he passed Kuils River and again when he was nearing Blackheath, where she'd fetch him.

"I was doing my daughter's hair that night and lost track of time," explains Janine, who lives in Denemere, a suburb in Cape Town's northern suburbs.

"But then I thought, 'No man. It's late.'

"So I checked my phone and saw no message from him."

Janine, who has a daughter, Oceane-Leigh (8), with Fabian, walked to the corner of the street where they live alongside the railway track to ask the men standing there whether the train had passed.

"They said, 'Yes, a long time ago.'

"That was just after nine and the train usually gets to Blackheath around 20:35. That was when I got nervous."

Calls to Fabian went unanswered. Janine's father drove to several stations along the route to wait for a train to pass. Eventually he sought help from SAPS Cape Town Central, who said they'd send out a request for information regarding train incidents that night.

By midnight there still wasn't any news so Janine tried getting some sleep.

By Tuesday morning she knew something serious had happened when a colleague, who had travelled home with Fabian that evening, broke down in tears after hearing he was missing.

"The last time she saw him was before she got off in Bellville," Janine says.

Janine reported Fabian missing at Bellville Police Station and had planned to issue Vodacom with the case number so they could track his cellphone.

But on her way to Vodacom she got the call to say Fabian had been found unconscious along the railway track.

Fabian Karels

"His bag was positioned in front of his body. The pocket knife in his bag was opened and the scissors, which he kept as a weapon, was missing. I believe he had tried to defend himself."

Janine believes his attackers had tried to rob him and when Fabian fought back they threw him from the moving train.

He was rushed by the Metro Emergency Medical Service to Netcare Kuils River Hospital. There were chafe marks by his groin area, he had bruises around his neck, a broken arm and three fractured ribs.

"He was in a vegetative state when police found him and he never regained consciousness," his mother, Juanita adds. "He was in that state until he passed away."

Juanita says the only time a police officer visited the hospital was to get a statement from Fabian. But when he was told Fabian was unresponsive, he never returned and the case was handed over to SAPS Kleinvlei, close to where he was found.

"An officer from Kleinvlei came to the house to ask for the phone number of the colleague who had travelled home with him," she says. "But then they said she can't help with the investigation because they left each other at Bellville station. The police never bothered again."

The family are desperate for answers and say while they have approached Metrorail for help, they haven't heard anything from the railway operator.

Fabian, Ocean-Leigh and and Janine Karels

But Metrorail's Riana Scott says they don't have any record of the incident. She adds they'd like to have the matter investigated.

Western Cape Police Spokesperson Captain FC Van Wyk confirmed the incident and says an inquest docket was opened following Fabian's death and it's currently under investigation.

"At this stage it's unknown how the incident occurred," he says. "Investigations continue."

*Anyone with information can call 021-406-2775 or 081-531-9189.

Photos: Supplied

Read more on:    metrorail  |  cape town  |  crime

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