Police jacket for a blanket and handbag for a pillow: How brave cop delivered a baby on a Joburg pavement
Lebogang Mngomezulu had been on another assignment when she received word of a 28-year-old pregnant woman lying on a pavement and crying for help in Eloff street in Johannesburg's CBD.
As she parked near the scene, she was met by a woman who had severe labour pains and whose cries could be heard from afar.
“I had no choice, I could not take her inside the ambulance, watch or call for medical help, it was too late because her membrane had already ruptured [water broke],” Mngomezulu told TimesLIVE.
Mngomezulu is employed in the accident investigation unit, which on a daily basis deals with people seriously injured in accidents.
But the 47-year-old Soweto woman said her only experience of childbirth was that of her own two children, who were now teenagers.
“Not even in my wildest dreams have I thought I would find myself in such a situation, but I did.
“I had all sorts of thoughts but the one that dominated my mind was the importance of saving their lives. I told myself that I have to do it – and do it right – to save their lives,” she recalled.
Mngomezulu said the woman did not appear to have been on her way to hospital as she only had a small handbag which she ended up using as a pillow for her head on the hard pavement.
Mngomezulu took off her work jacket and used it as a blanket for the woman.
She also parked her JMPD vehicle in a manner that afforded the woman some privacy from passing motorists. She then took out "body bags" from her vehicle and asked two bystanders to hold them up to shield the woman from passersby.
“As I was still getting her to be comfortable, I noticed something black… only to realise that it was the baby’s head. I was further confused and started crying but gave her instructions that she must breathe in, out and push…
"I told her to pretend as if she was in the loo… she listened and the baby was born and fell into my hands,” she said.
While relieved at the successful delivery, Mngomezulu said she was confronted by yet another problem when she realised she needed to cut the umbilical cord – but she had no scissors.
“I had to drive around to a local station and was lucky to meet a paramedic that had just knocked off from night shift, who luckily had a kit and a pair of scissors. She assisted me and the duo were fine."
Following the delivery, the pair was taken to Hilbrow Clinic by ambulance and mom and baby are said to be doing well, said JMPD spokesperson Wayne Minnaar, who commended Mngomezulu’s bravery and for going beyond the call of duty.
Four days after the ordeal, Mngomezulu said she was proud to have saved the little girl but is somehow still haunted by thoughts of what could have gone wrong.
“Everything could have gone wrong, that woman would have had every right to sue JMPD because I am not a professional. I could have lost my job.
“People have been praising me for bravery and I am grateful. To look back and realise that everything went well is a relief. I am really proud of myself, proud to have saved a life.”
Mngomezulu said her family was not entirely surprised by the act. Her brother commented: “Well done, my sister, you know how we were raised.”
She expressed gratitude to her parents who emphasised the importance of selflessness and putting others first.
"My parents were something else. Growing up, I remember how they taught us the importance of selflessness, sharing or kindness.
"For example, when someone said they had no food, they would take our bread and divide it into two, as to help the needy,” she added.