Brought back to life

2014-07-15 00:00

AS police dog handlers combed Pietermaritzburg police station for a suspect who had stabbed a policeman leaving him with no signs of life, plucky paramedic Carla Potgieter was fearlessly focusing on resuscitating her patient.

With the possibly armed man on the loose, the ER24 paramedic was yesterday hailed for her tireless efforts in resuscitating the wounded policeman, who had been stabbed in the chest.

The drama unfolded late on Sunday night inside the city’s central police station, the Pietermaritzburg (Loop Street) police station as a policeman checked the cells there.

As he approached the cells, it’s believed a suspect wanted in connection with an armed robbery in the capital city in June, stabbed the 48-year-old policeman, warrant officer B. Zondi, and allegedly managed to wrestle the cell keys away from him.

The suspect is believed to have opened the door of his cell and bolted into the enormous police station, which sprawls over three floors.

As the prisoner ran between offices and different levels in the building trying to hide and avoid being re-arrested, the Pietermaritzburg K9 Unit was called to bring in the dogs to sniff him out.

ER24 was summoned to take care of the critically wounded policeman.

Potgieter and her team worked on Zondi for 10 minutes until they managed to resuscitate him. His stab wound in the chest had severed arteries and he had bled profusely. As soon as Potgieter regained his vital signs, the policeman was transported to Grey’s Hospital where he remains in ICU in a critical condition.

The police dog handlers tracked down the suspect, re-arrested him and took him back to the cells.

Yesterday afternoon, officials at Grey’s Hospital said the officer was still in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU).

Attempts to speak to the family yesterday were unsuccessful.

Police spokesperson Captain Thulani Zwane said the 48-year-old officer was allegedly stabbed with a sharp instrument by the prisoner.

“He [the suspect] was later arrested after he was found hiding within the police station premises. He will be charged for attempted murder and escaping from lawful custody and will appear in Pietermaritzburg Magistrate’s Court [today].”

He said the suspect had been detained for an attempted business robbery that he allegedly committed at Oribi Road, Pelham.

KwaZulu-Natal provincial commissioner Lieutenant-General Mmamonnye Ngobeni said, “We will make sure that we thoroughly investigate cases where the perpetrators commit crime one after another so that they can be put behind bars for a long period of time. We will not tolerate the attack on our members who are here to serve and protect the community.”

She is KZN’s never-say-die CPR angel

ER24 paramedic Carla Potgieter previously made headlines when she resuscitated Jeremy Cockburn, the man who was clinically dead for 70 minutes after he collapsed with a heart attack on a squash court in Hilton.

Speaking to The Witness yesterday, Cockburn’s brother, Tony, said Jeremy was still in hospital, but was hoping to be out this week. He said he was still confined to a wheelchair. “We think it was because of the electric shocks but we hope it may improve in time.”

He said the family was pleased with what Potgieter had done to save Jeremy. “She kept him alive.”

Cockburn’s recovery was described at the time as “an absolute miracle”.

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