Pretoria - With movie-like bravado, a suspected robber thought he had escaped arrest by jumping several metres over a fence and on to a speeding Gautrain in Sunnyside.
The man could not hold on to the train and fell off, breaking several bones and leaving a bloody trail as evidence of his escape-gone-wrong.
The alleged robber was trying to evade arrest, but was left in a critical condition on Tuesday as he tried to catch the moving train travelling from Hatfield to Pretoria station.
The man was allegedly trying to break into a house on the corner of Bourke and Mentz streets, near Metrorail’s Devenish Street station.
The owner of the house was not at home at the time but said his domestic worker called him at noon to say there was a suspicious person on the property. The owner, who asked to remain anonymous, said he called an armed response unit to apprehend the suspected thief before rushing home.
The unit tried to corner the man by blocking all possible escape routes, forcing him to jump over the fence between the house and the railway tracks.
He fell several metres before jumping on to the speeding train.
He could not hold on and fell on to the tracks, where emergency services stabilised him before taking him to Steve Biko hospital, where he is under police guard.
“He is in a critical condition and broke both legs and suffered head injuries,” Tshwane Emergency Services spokesman Johan Pieterse said.
“Nothing was stolen. He was still alive after the train hit him but he was in quite bad shape,” the owner of the house said.
Gautrain spokesman Errol Braithwaite said: “A person gained unauthorised access to the rail reserve. He was seriously injured.”
Gautrain services were disrupted for a short while but back to normal by the afternoon. “We have laid charges of trespassing against the suspect,” Braithwaite said.
Sergeant Asnath Malatsi of the Sunnyside police station confirmed a case of trespassing had been opened. He pleaded with the public to stay away from railway reserves.
“The train reaches 160km/h and it runs quietly so by the time you hear it coming it might be too late.”