Sick cop arrests hospital conmen

2013-01-23 10:30
Sergeant Nithia Peter poses with the cellphone which was stolen from a fellow patient by two conmen visiting a hospital. (Jonathan Burton, The Witness)

Sergeant Nithia Peter poses with the cellphone which was stolen from a fellow patient by two conmen visiting a hospital. (Jonathan Burton, The Witness)

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Pietermaritzburg - Not even hospitalisation for a serious lung ailment can keep a good cop down, it seems.

From his bed at Midlands Medical Centre, Sergeant Nithia Peter watched as a fellow patient was conned out of his cellphone by two men posing as doctors.

It was second time unlucky for the men, who the dedicated crime-buster had previously arrested two years ago.

Shrugging off his ill health, the sergeant repeated his feat on Monday when he ran after the pair as they tried to flee the hospital.

Low energy

“I had low energy and I wasn’t myself, but I wanted to stop them so they wouldn’t do this to other people,” he said.

Peter was admitted to the hospital on Saturday with lung complications.

At about 11:00 on Monday he was sedated and taken for tests, returning to his ward about an hour later.

He awoke to see two men speaking to a 17-year-old patient in the bed opposite him.

“They were neatly dressed in expensive clothes. One was holding a 2008 diary and the other had a small bag.

“They told him they were doctors and that they wanted to discharge him.

“They said they wanted his phone to download his information on their laptop to process his discharge.”

But then the men grabbed the teenager’s phone and made their way towards the door.

“As they were walking out, they looked at me and said ‘Mr Peter’. I didn’t know who they were at the time, but they recognised me because I had arrested them for a robbery in 2011.”

Both were convicted of the crime.

Peter said he asked the patient if he realised he had just been robbed.

Returned phone

Perhaps the thieves knew Peter was a member of the Loop Street Project Team, which traces wanted criminals, because an odd thing then happened.

“While we were talking, the suspects walked back in and threw the phone on the patient’s bed and ran.”

Peter jumped out of bed and went after them.

He alerted the hospital security and nurses joined in the search for the pair.

“We searched and found them trying to get inside an office. We arrested them and they were taken to the security control room, where they admitted that they were there to steal. They reminded me that I had arrested them in 2011,” said Peter, who was discharged on Tuesday afternoon.

His efforts, though, were in vain.

Police spokesperson Lieutenant Joey Jeevan said the victim did not want to lay any charges and no case was opened.

“The officer’s dedication to duty, even while receiving treatment, is commendable,” Jeevan said.

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