Cop's parents hope for miracle

2005-04-26 13:52

Cape Town - Constable Johan Slabbert's parents are hoping against hope that their son will live.

His mother Engela Slabbert told News24 on Tuesday: "His first and second vertebrae are shattered. He cannot breathe on his own. He is paralysed from the neck down."

The 22-year-old policeman was wounded in a shootout at the Princess Crossing shopping centre in Roodepoort on Sunday.

"We received a call on Sunday saying: 'Klein Slabbies has been shot. Come quick'. "We rushed to the shopping centre. Johan was still there. Paramedics sedated and stabilised him, and he was airlifted to Milpark Hospital. We followed in the car."

The Slabberts, their daughter Erika, 16, and Johan's 22-year-old wife, Marieke, have been keeping vigil at his beside ever since.

"Marieke is holding up well," said Engela. "They have been married five months, but they have known each other for six years."

Erika keeping their spirits up

But it is Erika who is keeping the family's flagging spirits up.

"Erika had meningitis as a five-month-old baby. People across the world prayed for her and she survived.

"She believes that if she survived her ordeal, her brother will pull through."

Slabbert jun, called "Klein Slabbies" (Young Slabbies) to distinguish him from his father, superintendent Johan Slabbert, was very popular with his colleagues at Roodepoort police station.

Slabbert sen is head of crime prevention at Honeydew police station. Engela works at pre-admission at the Flora Clinic in Florida, Roodepoort.

"One of his colleagues who came to visit, said: 'It's a privilege to work with him - he is always so dedicated, and he does things the right way.'"

"'One doesn't have to be cool to be popular,' is Erika's opinion of her brother," says Engela.

"And he really is an exceptional, fantastic person. He loves his job."

"Although we know that the prognosis is very bad, and that it is medically impossible for Johan to survive, we are still hoping that he will make it."