It’s not often that you see someone put their lives at risk just for the safety of others, but one Cape Town hero made international headlines after he stepped in to prevent train commuters from being robbed. Darryn August (27), from Athlone, was trying to help female passengers from getting robbed when he was stabbed and thrown from a speeding train – fracturing his spine.
“I was on my way to work. I was doing a job-seekers workshop that enables one to become more presentable in the working environment. It helps you prepare for interviews.
“I was the first person they wanted to rob, the person in their way. The ladies hid in the corner while they were busy with me,” he says as he recalls the tragic incident that put him in hospital.
More than a year after the accident, Darryn admits living with disability is a challenge.
“One of the biggest challenges is not being able to go where you want to, constantly wondering if it will be wheelchair friendly. And having to adjust then readjust your mindset and your surroundings in terms of your household settings. Another challenge is being able to keep yourself mentally fit, mentally able and mentally alert most of the time.”
However, he says if he were to go back in time, he’d still save those commuters all over again.
“I don’t regret what happened because I’m still alive and still working towards my goals. I might not be walking 100% right now, but I work at it constantly. It might seem like the end of the line to some people but it’s really not.”
He adds that some of those commuters he saved have since become friends.
Darryn’s cousin Edwin Brooks and a friend, Graeme Kuys, had ambitions to raise R50 000 for Darryn, but donors ended up forking out a lump sum of R500 000.
“I don’t know most of these people, but they have donated unselfishly and have made me even stronger in the process. It was very humbling and made me very emotional to know that so many people cared,” he told the Cape Argus.
Edwin and Graeme cycled to the Steenbras viewpoint 36 times in one day to reach 8848m – the same height as Mount Everest. Darryn wasn’t shy to talk about the respect he has for his cousin and friend.
“I have a few close people in my life who are my biggest motivators. One of them is my cousin, Edwin. It’s been one of those relationships where I’ve been able to look up to him and see the struggles he’s been through. I would like people in our country to look to my good friend Brandon from the Sports Science institute. He has faced life with such an awesome attitude. Whenever I speak to him there’s always something good he says.”
Talking about ‘awesome attitude’, Darryn knows disabled doesn’t mean unable. He still manages to give his time to those who need it the most.
“I’m busy with a couple of initiatives. One of them is the wheelchair drive that is a part of the Hermanus Wheelchair Association. The whole project is about raising awareness of the plight of some people who cannot access a simple wheelchair they need for basic mobility in their daily lives. Some of them are seniors.”
“I am also working on a youth development workshop planned for September for those who would like to be entrepreneurs.”
Darryn encourages people to extend a helping hand whenever they can.
“I always encourage people to help others. If you know you can help someone on some level, be it by a gesture or advice, then do so. I think that helping or aiding someone comes down to your values. The values that you as a person pick up as you grow up. Helping people doesn’t cost that much, and it doesn’t take that much to lend an ear.
“A little bit of kindness goes a long way. Everyone needs everyone. These days it’s everyone for themselves, we have becomes so isolated. We are all part of a pretty big broad network and we’re linked in some way or another,” he concludes.
This interview was conducted by our intern blogger Tamica Mopp and written by Ndibulele Sotondoshe