Everyone’s got a story to tell. Some are just far more intriguing than others.
Take Byron Calvert for example. His story left me astonished.
Here’s a piece I did shortly before the start of the Nedbank SA Disabled Golf Open at Swartkops earlier this year.
When Byron Calvert tells you how he lost his leg you’d swear that he took the story straight from the plot of a Hollywood blockbuster.
It’s a tale involving guns, drugs and a far right wing extremist on an evening that changed the Randfontein resident’s life forever.
“Without a doubt it’s probably the best thing that ever could have happened to me,” Calvert, who will line up in the field for this year’s Nedbank SA Disabled Golf Open, told Saturday Citizen at the host venue Zwartkops Country Club this week.
“I do things now that I never did before – and I play golf just about every day now,” he said.
Calvert and a number of South Africa’s top disabled golfers took on the media in a four hole showdown and used the opportunity to impress with their talents.
As the head of his local community policing forum, Calvert helped set up a private drug force – accredited by the Hawks – to deal with the growing scourge in his home town and the journey took him to that fateful evening in June 2012.
“We got a tip-off about two youngsters who were trying to sell a firearm and we set up a roadblock and managed to catch them,” Calvert recalls.
Instead of getting the youngsters caught up in the system and hindering further opportunities for employment and the like, Calvert’s team and a few local police officers decided to approach the parents to try and work out a solution.
It was at the suspects’ house that their father went on a rampage against the 10-member team with an R1 rifle before eventually killing himself when he realised that there was no way out.
“I remember seeing him in the doorway and managed to fire off two shots that hit the wall just above his head. I tried to take a step and thought I had tripped. I suddenly felt very short and looked up to see my leg just lying there,” Calvert recounted.
“The guy ended up firing off 288 rounds in total – 40 of those were at me – and blew one of the police vans to pieces. I had cuts and scrapes everywhere from the bullets flying past.”
By the time the injured reached hospital, Calvert had lost a great deal of blood and doctors didn’t think he would make it.
“In the first few hours at hospital I needed 18 units of blood. One of the nurses ended up having to squeeze it into me. Had it not been for her I wouldn’t be here today. She saved my life.”
But 13 operations and the fitting of a prosthetic leg, adapted with a bearing that allows him enough range of motion to swing a golf club, Calvert is gearing up for next week’s event.
“I only took up golf a year ago but I’m really looking forward to taking part in this event,” said Calvert.