Durban - “Can you hear me?” It was a voice that 19-year-olds Bradley Yeo and Keenan Perry did not expect to hear and, at first, chose to ignore, thinking it was echoing from across the Kloof Gorge.
But when it called to them again from a cliff ledge 30m below them in the Krantzkloof Nature Reserve, where they sat “chilling” after work on Thursday afternoon, the pair realised someone needed help. That someone turned out to be Bruce Galloway, 59, who had been missing since early on Tuesday after allegedly being abducted from his Kloof home.
“My heart just started going,” Yeo said.
Galloway shouted again: “Please phone my wife and let her know I’m okay.”
Neither of them had a cellphone and so they sought the help of documentary film-maker Jordan Persson, who was nearby.
Repeating each digit back to Galloway as he shouted it, Persson, who was filming for Earth Touch, made the phone call to Galloway’s wife, Les, who, he said, sounded shocked and unbelieving that her husband had been found.
Within a short while family, police, rescue teams, private investigators and paramedics had congregated at the Bridle Road view site for the rescue of Galloway, whose disappearance had mystified police and investigators.
Search and rescue units from SAPS and Rescue Tech and ER24 paramedics made their way through 150m of rock and vegetation to reach Galloway.
By that stage he had managed to pull himself up from the ledge he was on and joined his rescuers as they started the hike back to safety.
He was eventually put on to a stretcher as he could no longer manage the walk.
Mark Easton from Rescue Tech said Galloway’s condition was stable although he appeared traumatised, possibly dehydrated, and a bit “battered and bruised”.
He did not tell his rescuers what had happened to him.
“But I think he was very bewildered… I don’t think he thought he would ever be rescued.”
When Galloway was carried out of the bush emotions were high as his family clapped and cheered through tears.
Lying on his side on the stretcher, his black trousers and striped shirt looking like they had endured some bush beating, he was placed in the ambulance and taken to Hillcrest Private Hospital.
Galloway’s nephew, Graeme Madsen, said: “The past two days have been a roller-coaster ride. Everyone is over the moon that he’s been found alive.”
Apart from a “few broken ribs” and “superficial injuries”, Galloway “should be fine”, Madsen said.
Private Investigator Brad Nathanson said Galloway had said that he had been thrown off the cliff by his abductors. He also said they had tried to cut his wedding ring off his finger.
The businessman - who owns a Spar and a few Build It stores and is the former chairman of the South African Sugar and SA Canegrowers’ Associations - was leaving his Intengu Road home at about 3.30am on Tuesday to travel to Mthatha on business.
But when his wife went outside at about 7am, she saw his car in the driveway. His wallet, containing his bank cards, iPad and cellphone had been left behind.
His glasses were found on the ground near the intercom at the bottom of the driveway.
Nathanson said it was as if he had been “abducted by aliens”.
Police are investigating a case of kidnapping.