Man’s suicide bid causes traffic jam

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Copy of DF jump 0903 c Danie Van der Lith A 23-year-old Greenpoint man allegedly decided to end his life by throwing himself in front of a moving vehicle. Seen here is the damage caused to the vehicle that he hit. Picture: Danie Van der Lith

Kimberley -

A 23-year-old Greenpoint man attempted to end his life by throwing himself in front of a moving vehicle because he “could not live without his (16-year-old) girlfriend anymore”.

Desmond Stember caused a huge traffic jam on the bridge leading to the Kimberley Airport after the incident on Friday afternoon, as only one lane was open to traffic entering and exiting Kimberley on the Petrusburg road for more than an hour.

The driver of the green Mercedes-Benz that hit Stember, a student from Bloemfontein, said he was certain the man he hit was attempting to commit suicide.

He was with three fellow students, who were all on their way to visit their families in Kimberley for the weekend.

“As I approached the top of the bridge, I saw a man sitting on his haunches next to road while facing the road. As I approached, he went closer to the road and then I slowed down. He then jumped into the road and hit the vehicle’s windscreen with his head. He rolled over the roof and ended up on the road,” the student recalled.

The impact caused the vehicle’s windscreen to shatter and resulted in Stember suffering head, neck and arm injuries.

Stember’s bloodied body was taken to Kimberley Hospital by Care4U paramedics, where he was admitted to the emergency room, still alive.

According to family members, he was on Sunday in a stable condition.

Stember’s friends later indicated that he had attempted to commit suicide, because his girlfriend had been “taken away from him” earlier during the week.

“His 16-year-old girlfriend, Letia Meyers, who is also six months pregnant with his child, was this week taken away by her family in Roodepan. He was extremely saddened and stressed by this and had become progressively more depressed about not having her around.

“Apparently he then confided in his friends that he was ‘going to do something’ but we never expected this,” the friends said.

Stember’s mother, Martha Mogotsi, confirmed that the pregnant Meyers was taken away by her parents, after the two stayed in Greenpoint for nearly two years.

She added that she saw her son shortly before the incident.

“After walking home from work I saw Desmond on the bridge and noticed that he was not in a good state of mind. I told him to come home, but he ignored me. Shortly after arriving at my house, the people came to call me, saying that he had been hit by a car.

“I rushed there only to find him lying in the road on the bridge, close to where I left him. He was unable to speak or react when I spoke to him. I accompanied him in the ambulance to the hospital. He has been unconscious since then,” Mogotsi said.

She added that her son and Meyers were addicted to sniffing glue, which made it difficult to judge their emotional state.

“I am extremely saddened by this incident but I am just glad that he is still alive,” she said.

An eyewitness said that Stember had first attempted to jump in front of a truck, but was unsuccessful and then sat waiting for the Mercedes-Benz.

Police spokeswoman, Lieutenant Andrea Cloete, on Sunday confirmed the incident and added that, according to procedure, a case of reckless and negligent driving was being investigated.

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