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A MAN was rushed to a Bulawayo hospital yesterday barely clinging to his life after trying to hang himself near the National University of Science and Technology (Nust) along Gwanda Road.The man, who was last night named as Gabriel Rupapa, is believed to be the son of a senior prison officer from Kwekwe.

Rupapa, who is in his 20s, was "minutes from death" when a truck driver, who was buying a mobile phone recharge card shortly after 2PM, observed what he thought was a man hanging from a tree in a wooded area not too far from the road.

The truck driver, joined by other passersby, rushed to the scene and cut the rope. Rupapa had lost consciousness and his tongue washanging out of his mouth, witnesses said.

Sithembiso Mpofu said: "I was selling airtime to a truck driver when we spotted a boy hanging from a tree. We stopped about five kombis and rushed to cut the rope while others were holding him from falling and we let him lie on his belly. I had two 750ml bottles of water and I poured it on him until he regained consciousness."

Another witness, Teverai Madzima, said Rupapa was furious with his rescuers after regaining consciousness.

"I was passing through the area when I saw a crowd of people gathered. I saw him and his tongue was hanging out of his mouth. I thought he was dead," said Madzima.

"After he regained consciousness, he started crying and I think he soiled himself as there was a foul smell emanating from his trousers. He kept asking the people there why they didn't let him die."

Mpofu said upon searching Rupapa's pockets, they found a small piece of paper with a mobile phone number which was being answered by Langton Rupapa, a senior prisons officer in Kwekwe.

According to Mpofu, he said he was the troubled man's father. The news crew could not independently verify this.

She added: "Someone called his father on the phone and he said that he once fled to Harare but later came back. When he disappeared again last Friday, they thought he would come back."

Last night, Langton Rupapa's phone rang unanswered. Back in Kwekwe, his wife said: "He left for Bulawayo this afternoon, he didn't say why. I don't have a son named Gabriel; my son is here with me."

An ambulance rushed Rupapa to the United Bulawayo Hospitals. Rupapa may yet rue his survival, with police likely to quiz him over his suicide attempt.

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