‘He told me to hurry, he was dying’: Dash to save doctor shot by robbers
“I didn’t know where I was going. He kept telling me to hurry, and that he was dying.”
These are the nerve-racking moments that haunt a man who drove a bleeding doctor to hospital after armed robbers stormed into his surgery in Pretoria and opened fire.
A female receptionist was shot dead while a second woman and the doctor were injured during the incident at the doctor’s rooms in Mabopane a week ago.
Four people, with masked faces, had allegedly climbed out of a Toyota Quantum fitted with false registration plates and demanded cash before shooting.
When TimesLIVE visited the surgery on Monday it was closed, with a few men working on renovations to the building outside. Neighbouring houses were locked. There were bullet holes in the walls and doors of the surgery and blood stains on the floor and walls.
“I am scared. I have fears and I don’t sleep at night. I can’t even eat,” said the 58-year-old man who drove the bleeding doctor to hospital.
Fearing being targeted by the robbers for his good deed, he asked that his identity be withheld.
He had been standing outside the surgery when the gunshots went off. “I heard gunshots and started running to try to hide. When I was hiding I saw the doctor getting in my car, holding his badly bleeding hand. The blood was spraying,” he said.
He ran to the car, climbed in and sped away. “He had his eyes open and he was giving me directions as I didn't know where I was going. He kept telling me to hurry, and that he was dying. His blood was still coming out,” he said.
His blood was all over ... It was like we slaughtered a cow in the car.Man who drove doctor to hospital.
He took the injured doctor to Legae hospital. “His blood was all over the car but his life was more precious. It was like we slaughtered a cow in the car. I saw when I dropped him how bad it was.
“It’s like a movie for me. His blood was spraying everywhere. I had to try to wash the car at the hospital. My family was glad I came back unharmed.”
The doctor told TimesLIVE he could not comment as the incident was still under investigation.
An eyewitness, who also asked not to be named, said the suspects had intended to kill.
“When I saw the whole thing, I realised the man was killing. He wanted to kill. When someone is robbing you, they tell you to lie down and search you. They might shoot once to show you the gun works, but this one was shooting. He had no conscience,” said the eyewitness.
Police spokesperson Capt Kay Makhubele said a case of murder and double attempted murder were under investigation. He said the motive for the shootings remained unclear.
“On arrival at the scene, police found a woman who was declared dead by paramedics, and two other victims — a man and a woman — who were both injured and rushed to hospital for medical attention,” he said.
Another eyewitness said: “They came in and demanded cellphones from patients who were waiting in the reception, then proceeded to go to other rooms, looking for the doctor.”
The woman said she was still traumatised and was attending counselling.
Chairperson of the SA Medical Association (Sama) Dr Angelique Coetzee said doctors had become easy targets for criminals and must ensure they have adequate security in and around their practices.
“It’s unfortunate to have to give this message but it’s a reality. Doctors must ensure their own and their patients’ safety as far as possible. Extra security may not seem welcoming — especially to a place which represents safety, healing and comfort — but it has become essential to do so,” she said.
Coetzee said attacks like this made everyone in the profession anxious. “We sympathise with the family of the receptionist who lost her life, and we wish for a speedy recovery of the doctor and his assistant,” she said.
Makhubele said the police were hunting for the suspects.