The 54-year-old is in surprisingly high spirits after being shot in the chest when he foiled a robbery at his hardware store in Pretoria recently.
“I feel like a train has ridden over me. I have pain and I have discomfort but I am able to walk, even if I’m not able to be up for long,” he tells us, adding that he is “in good spirits, I am alive and I can breathe”.
The next six months will be critical for Mike, who has a long road to recovery ahead, doctors say.
August 12 was just another day at work at Mike’s shop, the aptly named Warrior Paint and Hardware in Morelata Park, when two armed men stormed in and attempted to rob a customer of her jewellery.
When he saw what was happening, Mike’s son, Luke (21), rushed from the cash register to alert his father, who was working in his office.
As Mike rushed out of his office to help the woman, he was shot in the chest.
“I was two meters away from [the robber] when he shot straight at me. I just didn’t feel it, I think it was adrenaline. It could have been my son or anyone else in my position but [Luke] was like a soldier, he's a superstar, it’s all glory to God that our lives were spared.”
Mike didn’t realise he’d been shot, he says, and ducked behind the counter to get his gun and returned fire. The robbers fled the shop and drove off in a waiting car, a white Polo Vivo.
“I didn’t realise that I had been hit so I had just continued to fight,” he says
A staff member called for an ambulance, and Mike was airlifted to Milpark Hospital in Parktown.
The bullet had his liver, his right kidney and chipped off a piece of his vertebrae before exiting his body. He spent five days in the intensive care unit.
“The way the bullet travelled I should actually be dead. It's difficult to explain; even my doctor said it’s a miracle and I’m lucky to be alive and that’s just God. The fact that the doctors didn’t have to operate me is also a miracle. The organs may recover on their own, and that’s why I am back home. They said they will only operate if my kidney starts giving me trouble.”
The woman who was nearly robbed in the shop said she was still shaken by the traumatic incident and did not want to be interviewed. She did, however, say that she was grateful to Mike for his heroism.
“She visited my home while I was still in ICU,” says Mike, “and my wife told me that she will visit me later. I have asked people to give me time to recover, I am in a lot of pain and want to get better before I interact with people.”
Mike’s selfless act nearly cost him his life, but he would do it all over again if he had to.
“I feel like I did my duty. I did what I thought anybody else would do. I do not feel like a hero because I did exactly what we’re supposed to do”.
Spoken like a true hero.