Cape Town - When doctors at Vincent Pallotti Hospital switched off 41-year-old Gary Stewart’s life support, he became the first fatality in the violent transport workers’ strike.
About 24 hours earlier, doctors had declared him brain dead, and his family started filling out the paperwork for his organs to be donated.
“He always said that if his organs could help someone else to live, then they must be donated after he died,” his sister, Michelle Fisher, said on Monday.
She said if her brother could have woken up she had no doubt he would have forgiven his attackers.
“He’d probably turn around to me and apologise for the damage to the windshield, and offer to pay for it to get fixed. That’s just the kind of loving and considerate person that he was.”
Fisher and her husband, Henry, own Global Force Transport – the company where Stewart worked as an assistant driver.
Last Wednesday, strikers stoned the truck in which Stewart was travelling near Cape Town International Airport. A brick went through the windshield and cracked his skull.
Vincent Masoga, spokesman for the SA Transport and Allied Workers’ Union, said the union would co-operate fully with police and that the perpetrators must be brought to justice.
“They are criminals, and they must consider themselves as outlaws (to the union and its cause).
The union offers its condolences to the family.”
Fisher did not want to discuss her feelings about the strike and the people who killed her brother.
She said her brother had looked after their mother, Cynthia Stewart, now 72, since she was widowed, when they were still children.
“He never married or had children; he dedicated his life to her,” she said.
“He would walk her home from work, carry her parcels and at night they would watch sport and Idols together.”
Stewart’s mother was too upset to talk.
“At first, we blacked out the media, but then we realised that it is important that Gary’s story be told. I want the people who have been striking so violently to read this, and to think twice about acting like that in the future,” said Fisher.
“The man who killed my brother is sitting around a table having dinner with his brother. I will never be able to do the same again.”
On Tuesday morning, Satawu and the National Bargaining Council for the Road Freight Employers Association will meet in Joburg for another round of wage negotiations.
Satawu members working in the country’s ports and railways have vowed to join the strike within a week if a wage settlement is not reached.
Cape Argus By Daneel Knoetze