A Durbanville man who is shown in a video calmly putting his shopping down to take on a knife-wielding man robbing a shopkeeper says anybody with a conscience would have done the same thing.
"If you hear a person or an animal crying in absolute terror for their life - if you hear that - any other living being with a conscience would have helped," PC salesman Werner Raal said on Wednesday.
The 45-year-old, who works at PC911 computers, said when he heard the shopkeeper's cries and saw what was happening, he put his shopping down and simply did what anybody else would have done.
The shopkeeper, whose first name is known to News24, was still recovering in hospital, Farrah Khan told News24 on Wednesday. Khan was standing in for him in the meantime at the shop.
'Where's the money?'
Raal told News24 that he was rounding off the day last Thursday with a visit to the Durbanville supermarket, north of Cape Town.
He had bought himself two beers, a packet of cigarettes and a packet of chips, and was on his way to the shop to buy a Coke so that he could have a "Coke and a smoke" on his way home.
As he walked into the shop he heard the terror-stricken pleas of the shop keeper.
"I heard someone shouting for their life," said Raal.
A video of the incident shows a robber hitting the shopkeeper with the blade of a long knife to stun him into submission, and then going around the counter.
"Take whatever... don't touch me," implores the shopkeeper.
"Where's the money?" asks the robber, and he sets about emptying the cash register.
Raal walks in, sees a scuffle, and asks: "Hello? Hello? Hello?"
He puts his own shopping on the counter while the robber is grabbing loot, and, with nobody else to pass things to, Raal calmly puts the money that was in his hand between his teeth.
He tries to get a hold of the shopkeeper to help him, but then grips a metal display stand on the counter and shakes its contents out, and starts whacking the robber on the back.
Martial arts training 'kicked in'
"Your conscience would have killed you if you had not helped," Raal said.
He's not sure, but he thinks maybe the martial arts training he had done when he was younger "kicked in" and kept him cool and unemotional throughout.
"When your emotions run away from you, no have no control... If you can just keep your cool..." he said.
The fight eventually ended up in a corner where the attacker grabs a bottle of cold drink to use as a weapon, after being disarmed of his knife.
"I can't remember if it was Fanta - maybe it was Pine Nut," said Raal, who had by then already done a mental assessment of the potential damage a broken glass bottle could do to him and the shopkeeper - if it was glass.
He said the attacker managed to get away and the last he heard, the man had run through a taxi rank.
He said the local security company Bassett Security was very helpful when they arrived.
Police spokesperson Siyabulela Malo confirmed the attack and said that the shopkeeper sustained open wounds to his hands and upper body.
Just a few grazes
"Assistance came from a concerned community member who rescued the complainant as they overpowered the suspect who fled the scene on foot without taking anything.
"The circumstances surrounding this incident are being investigated with no arrests made as yet. Our detectives are working around the clock in an effort to find the perpetrator."
Raal said that the shopkeeper sustained some nasty wounds to his back, ear and shoulder from the knife.
As for himself, he said he just had a few grazes on his hands.
"I was glad to help," he said. "The shopkeeper always treats people with respect."
Raal said he is stunned by the interest in the video, and insists that anybody else would have done the same thing to help the shopkeeper.
"By the grace of the Lord, because he had a hand in this, because it could have been different. That was a vieslike (terrible) butcher's knife that he had in his hand," said Raal.