An Athlone man who stepped in to prevent train commuters from being robbed has been hailed a hero and received international recognition with people from as far at the US donating money for his treatment.
Darryn August, 27, fractured his spine when he was flung from a train and hit a tree while trying to protect female passengers from being robbed on the Metrorail train he was travelling on last week.
August said he used himself as a decoy when a group of between five and eight men came on the train and started robbing people.
“I was the first person they wanted to rob, the person in their way. The ladies were hidden in the corner while they were busy with me. So inadvertently I saved their lives by using myself as a decoy.”
August said he was hit on the head with a metal object before being tossed from the train and blacking out.
Recognised as a hero since the incident, August said he has been overwhelmed by the support and funds that have come in since his cousin, Edwin Brooks and a friend, Graeme Kuys, started the Everest For August fund and hoped to raise R50 000 by Saturday.
On May 14 Kuys will, in turn, be “Everesting”.
He will climb up the Steenbras viewpoint on bicycle a total of 36 times in one day to reach 8848m – the same height as Mount Everest. Kuys will not sleep until the elevation is complete.
Donors quickly surpassed their original target by late Sunday afternoon, with over R170 000 raised. A new target of R250 000 has since been set.
“I don’t know most of these people, but they have donated unselfishly and have made me even stronger in the process,” August told the Cape Argus.
“The messages always bring me to tears and get me very emotional.”
He added that in the beginning he was angry at the perpetrators, but said that he has now forgiven them.
On Sunday August spent a lot of time doing X-rays at Tygerberg Hospital and said he was still in some pain.
“I’m unable to lie on either side of my body for long periods of time, but I am feeling optimistic.”
He said there had been no reports on his X-rays from his doctors yet.
His brother, Bernard August, said the family remained optimistic that he would make a full recovery and be able to walk.
“I am waiting to speak to one of them (doctors) tomorrow to confirm whether or not he will be able to walk. But we remain faithful as a family and we pray to Jesus to heal him.”
Brooks said the money raised will be used in helping to pay for August’™s treatment. And now that the money surpassed their target, they hope to put it in a fund for him. “We want to make sure his future is sorted out, so that will come in very handy.”
“A lot of people that know him locally have donated and people that we met on Facebook, through the page we created Praying for Darryn, donated. It is blowing up quite big.”
In recent weeks many people have opened up their pockets in raising funds for at least two other people.
Over R56 000 was raised for Anelisa Dulaze, the Khayelitsha woman who was found murdered on May 2 after been missing for four months.
Waitress Ashleigh Schultz received over R100 000 after being reduced to tears by activist Ntokozo Qwabe, who allegedly racially attacked her.
Donations for August poured in in various amounts and currencies from R51 to R2000 and also from $3 to $700 throughout the day. By 5pm on Sunday, the total stood at R 173 575.47
On Monday August will be transferred to Groote Schuur where he will start with physiotherapy
Police spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Andre Traut said no new developments had been made in his case and that arrests were yet to be made.