A mentally frail man who was lost, found and then disappeared again over a period of a month, has finally been reunited with his family.
Wandile Nyanya vanished without a trace from Port Elizabeth’s Provincial Hospital on December 11, after he was allegedly forgotten at the hospital by a Department of Health patient transport driver.
But after briefly being located last week before vanishing again, Nyanya, 55, was found by a security supervisor of the Coega Development Corporation (CDC) and taken home to Port Alfred by ambulance on Thursday night.
“He got out of the ambulance and he was just smiling. He said to me: ‘I am home, I am home. Here is my sister. I am home’,” Nyanya’s sister, Lisa Stanley, 42, said.
“We missed Christmas and New Year because we were looking for him. Everyone is on their way to see him. We are going to have a house full of people and a celebration.”
Before Thursday, Stanley had last seen her brother on December 11 when she accompanied him to the patient transport bus to be taken to Port Elizabeth.
She asked another patient to keep an eye on him because her brother is forgetful and doesn’t really talk.
But after he was dropped off at Provincial Hospital, Nyanya disappeared. For three weeks nobody saw him and no trace of him could be found.
A missing person’s case was opened at Port Alfred police station and then transferred to the Mount Road police station in Port Elizabeth.
On Thursday last week, Nyanya was briefly at the Kwazakhele police station after he was taken there by a woman living nearby into whose home he had walked. But he disappeared again while a police officer went to phone the Port Alfred police.
CDC security manager Simphiwe Nkosa said he had received a call on Tuesday that a man was trespassing on one of the investors’ properties.
“I asked my security supervisor, Zanele Mabenstla, to accompany me. We suspected it might be a criminal trying to steal the fence.
“When we found this man we realised that he was not a criminal and that he was mentally disabled. He told us he was trying to get to Port Alfred. I ordered my security guards to give him a lift to Trucker’s Inn, where he could perhaps get a lift to Port Alfred.
“On Wednesday I saw the story of the missing man in The Herald. I saw the picture and I realised that this was the same man we picked up the previous day,” Nkosa said.
“I phoned the Port Alfred police station – I didn’t know that he was a missing person.
“Then I thought he would have struggled to get a lift. He didn’t look OK. He didn’t have money. I didn’t think anybody was going to pick him up.
“At 4pm I received a call from Mabenstla. She said the man who was in the newspaper was still around and she was keeping him in the control room. She bought him lunch and he was having some bread and some amasi,” Nkosa said.
“I said, ‘Just keep him there. Don’t let him out of your sight’.”
Nkosa phoned the Port Alfred police again to tell them that he had located Nyanya. “I received a call from the police and the ambulance service to tell me that they were coming.
“I used to work for the Port Alfred police – I am really happy that we could help the family,” he said.
“If it wasn’t for the picture in The Herald, I would not have known this person was missing.”
Stanley said EMS had told her they still had an ambulance from Port Alfred in Port Elizabeth and the crew went to pick up Nyanya.
“He arrived here just after 8pm. I was waiting right there.”
Stanley said she would take Nyanya to the hospital to get a full mental evaluation as soon as he was feeling stronger.
“I am just letting him rest for now. He can’t just keep wandering off like that,” she said.
Stanley said she just could not give up on finding her brother.
“There were many positive people around me. They wouldn’t allow me to give up on him. I would hear stories about other missing people who were never found. I just couldn’t lose hope. Every day I would believe that he was still alive.
“It is a bit late, but getting him home is the best Christmas present I have ever received,” she said.