Hero downplays deed

2014-08-29 00:00

THE Road Traffic Inspectorate officer who put his life on the line to halt the attack of a crazed vagrant is a reluctant hero.

In fact, he said firmly during an interview with The Witness yesterday from his hospital bed, that he is not a hero.

Delon Gounder shot dead a mentally disturbed man during a violent incident involving a stabbing and shooting at Silent Heights flats in Burton Avenue on Wednesday. The knife-wielding attacker snuck into the complex while the gate was opening for a vehicle.

An intense tussle broke out when a gardener, Lucas Nxele, tried to apprehend the vagrant who stabbed him in the head and arm. After seeing the tussle, Gounder rushed to Nxele’s rescue.

Nxele was discharged from hospital on the same day.

Swathed in bandages in ICU at St Anne’s Hospital, Gounder, who was shot twice during the fight, told The Witness about the ordeal.

“People look at me as a hero but I’m not a hero. This is what I was trained to do in my field of work. It is my job to rescue people from danger,” said Gounder who has worked in the law enforcement for 14 years.

“As much as I saved somebody’s life, somebody [else] died. I don’t see this as being a hero.”

Gounder said he did not accidentally shoot himself. “The vagrant tried to grab my gun and the bullets went off. During the tussle, I got shot in the thigh and calf. I have four holes, entrance and exit. I am in a lot of pain.”

Gounder couldn’t say how many shots went off, saying the inquest has not been finalised.

He warned people how dangerous vagrants can be. “Try not to approach them because you don’t know their mental ­capacity.”

He said people who had not had formal training with regards to helping others in situations like he found himself in, should not attempt “to do something like this”. “It’s very dangerous.”

His wife, Shereen said, “I’m confused and devastated. I’m grateful he is alive. It could have been worse.”

‘Not everyone is violent’

THERE have been numerous incidents where crazed vagrants have indiscriminately attacked people in the streets of Pietermaritzburg.

Local psychologist Dylan Evans said, “The vast majority of people suffering from mental illness are not violent. However, it needs to be acknowledged that a very small subgroup of people with severe mental illness is at risk of becoming violent.

“Contrary to public expectations, mentally ill people are more likely to be victims, rather than perpetrators, of violence.

“They are often vulnerable members of society who are stigmatised, rejected and have very little social support. It is these very experiences of being subjected to violence that can lead to the development or exacerbation of mental illness in the first place.

“Research has identified a number of factors that, if they occur together, put a mentally ill person at increased risk for violent behaviour.”

Previous incidents

August 2014 — A knife-wielding vagrant shot dead at Silent Heights flats in Scottsville.

February 2014 — A man dubbed the “crazy ninja” went on the rampage, attacking pedestrians in Church Street.

February 2014 — A man went berserk in Scottsville, attacked cars and motorists, causing damage and terror.

August 2009 — A young woman was bludgeoned to death by a man wielding an iron bar in Boom Street.

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