Georgina Hartzenberg, 53, the mother of Tyrone Hartzenberg, 29, of Manenberg, says her homosexual son was often victimised and called a “moffie” (faggot), and suffered from depression.
Organisations like the DA Women’s Network (DAWN) are now hoping to help men like Tyrone deal with their sexuality and depression.
Georgina says Tyrone was addicted to sniffing glue, which often caused him to hallucinate.
On 31 December last year, Tyrone went to a spot along the railway line near Nyanga Junction station, where he often used to sniff glue when he felt down, and jumped in front of a train.
Witnesses said Tyrone was high and apparently told some young boys that he could stop the train.
“At first I didn’t want to believe it,” Georgina says.
“He said he would show them how he can stop the train. He had been sniffing glue. He was not in the right state of mind. The train driver tried to stop the train.”
Georgina says her son was openly gay, but became depressed because he was often targeted over his sexuality.
“He was a young boy when he told me that he was gay,” she says.
“He was often called a moffie (faggot) in the community. He thought I was ashamed of him, but I told him everything would be OK.”
His friend, Bianca Tshibwawba, 38, says Tyrone often spoke about his depression and victimisation.
“He spoke to us every day and said ‘I am gay and finished’,” she explains.
“I told him that he must not worry about others, that everything would be OK. He was not ashamed of his sexuality.
“He was sniffing glue which made him see things and that spot at the railway tracks was where he would always sit and use his glue.”
Metrorail spokesperson Riana Scott said they were so “saddened to hear of this incident”.
“Our records indicate that the deceased crossed the rail lines illegally in a section between Nyanga and Heideveld. The inquest will determine the circumstances of the incident,” she says.
Sumaya Taliep, Metro Region Convener for DAWN says they provided support to Tyrone’s family. She hopes Tyrone’s story will serve as an inspiration for others who need help.
“I was notified that Tyrone Hartzenberg was severely depressed due to his unemployment situation and poverty-stricken circumstances. I understand that he was gay and was often picked on and felt lost in his community,” Taliep says.
“DAWN will be planning a women’s and youth workshop in collaboration with the Department of Community Safety, and engage the services of the Triangle Project to come to Manenberg and speak to the community about gender issues.
“Tyrone is an example of a young man who wasn’t able to cope with his circumstances. There should have been an opportunity for him to seek help, so that there could have been some insight into what he was going through.”