There was complete chaos on Saturday when a man walked into Witbank hospital and shot one of the patients.
Ruben Espach (20), who’d just had brain surgery, was in a ward directly above where the shooting happened.
“We heard five or six shots,” says Chris, Ruben’s father. Ruben fell off his friend’s dirt bike two weekends ago on their farm near Middelburg, Mpumalanga, and suffered brain and head injuries. He hadn’t been wearing a helmet.
Chris says they’d just been to see Ruben and were on their way to the car when Trudie, Ruben’s mom, realised they’d forgotten to leave Ruben the cooldrink they’d bought. The couple turned around and went back to Ruben’s room.
“That’s when we heard the shots,” Chris says. It came from the level below. I ran down the stairs, where a security guard told me to call the police.”
Chris first ran to his car to check that his two daughters, Juanita (27) and Chrizanne (6), were safe before he made the call.
“We all got a huge fright. You think your child is safe in hospital where he’s recovering, then something like this happens.”
Police spokesman Brigadier Leonard Hlathi says a patient was admitted to the hospital the previous Wednesday with gunshot wounds. “It looks as if the shooter came back to finish his job.”
There was an altercation between the patient and the shooter, followed by the gunshots. The patient died at the scene. Police are investigating the incident.