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A man stuck in waist-deep mud for two days said yesterday that prayers and thoughts of his wife and four children "kept me alive".
Suffering from hypothermia - which is excessive cold temperatures - dehydrated, hungry, and with mosquito bite marks all over his upper body, Mduduzi Msimango was dramatically rescued from his ordeal on Sunday, two days after he became stuck in the river mud following heavy rains.
A rescue team of at least 10 people, including police divers and members of the Johannesburg Emergency Rescue team, tied ropes around his body and pulled Msimango about 30 metres to dry land.
He was immediately whisked to hospital from where he yesterday said: "I kept on praying as I thought of my wife Evelyn and my four children."
Msimango's trouble started on Friday night as he was walking home after visiting a friend in Snakepark, Dobsonville.
When he tried to cross a stream to Protea he got stuck in the reeds at about 8pm.
Msimango, of eMndeni in Soweto, said: "Birds flew over me, some scratching my head, and frogs made funny sounds as I thought I was going to die on Friday and Saturday nights.
"I kept on screaming and shouting but no one could hear or see me.
"So I just stood there with death constantly haunting my mind."
Luckily, the water was just as high as his waist and the current was not strong, so he could not drown though the water was freezing cold.
It also rained at the weekend.
To add to his woes, mosquitos helped themselves to Msimango to such an extent that he still had to scratch his itchy arms now and then when Sowetan visited him at Selby Park Hospital in Johannesburg. He was transferred there from Chris Hani-Baragwanath yesterday.
His prayers were answered when a man passing by heard him crying for help at 2pm on Sunday and called Emergency Rescue Services.
"I thank God that I am alive," Msimango said.
"I still do not understand how I survived this ordeal."