Vincent Cosa not only risked his life rescuing a boy stuck halfway on a pipe over the furious Jukskei River in Alexandra township in Johannesburg, but he later stood up for him when his parents wanted to give him a hiding.
Cosa believes it was an "honest mistake" by the young boy, who found himself there because he usually saw children playing in the area.
"I see children play there all the time and when I saw him there, I could not fold my hands and watch from the sidelines. I told myself if he dies I will die with him," he said.
"He was sitting there crying in fear…I looked at him and thought of my own children…It could have been my own child."
A video of Cosa's heroic act went viral on social media on Saturday.
He could be seen in the video using his hands to move over a bulk pipe towards the stranded child.
When he reached him, he convinced the child to get on his back, before carrying him to safety the same way over the pipe, amid cheers and encouragement from onlookers on a nearby bridge.
Cosa not only brought the young boy safely to the riverbank, but went on to talk his parents out of punishing the child, someone he never knew previously, but risked his own life for.
Cosa said the boy's parents "did not say much, but they wanted to punish him" and he stood against it.
"I believe his was an honest mistake… and he probably got stuck there as the flash flood came."
When asked what pushed him to take a risk to save the boy, Cosa said he "just had to".
His hope is that the young boy remembers "that I saved his life", adding the child "could be a nurse or president tomorrow".
This man needs a medal for bravery: he rescued a child in Alexandra JHB (Jukskei River). WATCH pic.twitter.com/kxSebpZoj9— Yusuf Abramjee (@Abramjee) March 9, 2019