With eight centimetres of a serrated blade stuck in his neck, Mxolisi Madlala (31), sat dazed and confused for almost two hours at the New England Road dump site, sure he was going to die any minute.
Madlala, a waste picker at the New England Road dump site, said on Friday from his Grey’s Hospital bed that he was still trying to process the incident and come to terms with how he had survived the horrific ordeal.
“I had been arguing with a man that works with me at the dump. He started swearing at me and then I saw him pull out a steak knife,” said Madlala.
“I was so shocked. I could not believe what I was seeing.
“Then the man started trying to stab me with the knife and I tried to fight him off but then I felt the blade slice into my neck,” he said.
“Everything went dark after that. I fell down and could not see anything but I was in a lot of pain. My very first thought was that I was going to die.”
Madlala said he could hear and understand what was going on around him and that he could remember it all.
He said after a while, his vision came back but everything was blurry and he felt like he was drunk. “Someone called the police, but I sat with the knife stuck in my neck for almost two hours.
“The people around me wanted me to pull it out and I also wanted the blade out so I did try to take it out but the police arrived and stopped me.
“If I had taken the knife out, I don’t think I would be alive right now.”
He said he was relieved when the ambulance arrived but he still felt like he was drunk.
“I still couldn’t see properly but they [the paramedics] took care of me.
“The doctors and the paramedics say I am lucky to be alive. I feel lucky.”
ER24 Advanced Life Support paramedic Andrew Rogers and Welile Nxele, an ER24 Basic Life Support paramedic attended to Madlala.
“He was stabbed on the left of his neck. The blade went in between all the blood vessels, in front of his spinal cord and behind his trachea,” said Rogers.
“Usually when a person is stabbed in the neck, it is fatal because there are so many important veins and arteries in the neck that there is very little space where a weapon would not do major damage.
“The tip of the blade was just above the lung. He is extremely lucky to have survived. It is just extraordinary.”
Rogers said the blade missed the internal and external carotid arteries, the jugular, the subclavian artery, his lungs, nerve plexus (branching network of intersecting nerves), spinal cord, ligaments, nerves, his trachea and his oesophagus. “Any major movements of the blade could have sliced deeper into the tissue and might have been fatal.
“It was an exceptionally unusual case and the man is exceptionally lucky to be alive. We had to transport him very carefully to the hospital to ensure the blade did not move.”
Madlala said he was “just happy to be alive”. He thanked the paramedics and the doctors for looking after him.