South African Hero

Darren August, the South African hero who broke his spine during a train robbery continues to astound doctors with his dedication and persistence to get walking again.

August, from Athlone, was on his way to Somerset West early in May where he works as a facilitator and teaches homeless children when he found himself in the middle of a train robbery.

He and four other commuters were in a carriage when nine men boarded and robbed the passengers near Firgrove station. August told a cousin that a heavily pregnant woman was among those being terrorised.

His brother Bernard shared that Darryn tried to talk the robbers out of it.

“It’s not in his nature to stand back and do nothing. If he sees something bad going down, he would always step in,” he said.

“But when he tried to intervene, one of the guys hit him with a crowbar. He tried to get up but he was stabbed in the head with a knife,” he said. “Darryn lost consciousness for a few minutes and when he came to, he was being tossed out of the train.”

The 27-year-old hit a tree before he landed, breaking his spine.

While the robbers had taken his iPad, ID and some money, they hadn’t seen his cellphone in a side pocket of his backpack.

“As he lay there, he phoned emergency services before he passed out. He was found still lying there three hours later by a maintenance worker who also phoned for assistance.”

August also suffered two collapsed lungs but fortunately escaped without any brain damage, Bernard said. He underwent a three-hour spinal surgery in May and was then diagnosed with a T7 Spinal Cord Injury. The South African hero is now completing a three month rehabilitation course in Cape Town which has a large focus on teaching wheelchair independence.

He is also still recovering from the other injuries, but is determined that he will walk again. August is motivated by his faith but also in his determination to win this battle.

The physiotherapy that Darryn undertakes every day is and I quote: “… my body doesn’t seem to agree with my mind …I’ve pushed myself so much during this week every muscle in my body is literally in pain …”

August has been pushing boundaries with his rehabilitation, and shocking Doctors with his strength and determination. He forced the team at the centre to put these braces on him. He is determined that he will walk again.

“The physiotherapy sessions are more intense now and the doctors were shocked cause most patients pass out for there first time being put into that mechanism… but I was fine for two hours. My back muscles are getting way stronger.”

He describes the feeling of being able to stand up again as euphoric and cannot wait to get walking again.

Darryn was always an activist for various charity organisations and this is not going to stop him. If anything, this incident is a catalyst to increase his work in these fields.

“I always had a love for people, developing people. Some people think I’m crazy, I’ll go to someone and ask them what they’re doing, get them different ideas. But I think I also like learning.”

On his first weekend pass from the centre, instead of going home to be with family, August is facilitating a work shop on economic development in Athlone. He is adamant to make Athlone a tourism destination and is working with communities to increase entrepreneurship opportunities within the area.

August has also turned down the offer to apply for a disability grant – his choice is reflective of his incredible morals and values. He doesn’t want to put any more strain on government systems but rather wants to find ways to contribute and help the departments.

To follow his incredible story on Facebook, click here or to contribute to donations for August, click here.

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About the Author

Brent Lindeque is the founder and editor in charge at Good Things Guy.

Recognised as one of the Mail and Guardian’s Top 200 Young South African’s as well as a Primedia LeadSA Hero, Brent is a change maker, thought leader, radio host, foodie, vlogger, writer and all round good guy.

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