Saving lives, helping kids, it's all in a day's work
Hero cop rescued hijacked man, but his greatest fulfillment comes from coaching his junior soccer team
An off-duty policeman, who risked his own life to save a stranger, says he still would rather be coaching his local football team than fighting off bad guys.
Speaking to Times Select from the local football field in Welgedacht near Springs, where he spends many of his lunch breaks scouting for new soccer talent, local hero Captain Ramothaki Maqabe said he loved serving his community.
It didn’t matter whether he was doing it in a blue uniform or with a whistle around his neck.
Maqabe proved that again last month when he saved the life of a hijack victim who had stopped after some car trouble – something the 33-year-old victim’s wife and children said they will be eternally grateful for.
While Maqabe was driving home with his wife and three children, the family noticed a man, who appeared to be bleeding, walking along the busy N12 highway in the Daveyton area. Other motorists ignored the distressed man’s attempts to wave them down.Maqabe, stationed at the Etatwa police station, knew the area as a hotspot for crime. But despite the risk to himself and his family, the 25-year veteran of the SA Police Service decided to stop and help the man.
He soon learned that the victim had been hijacked nearby and that the man’s four assailants had also stabbed him several times.
Within minutes the passionate coach and owner of the Multiplayers Football Academy in the East Rand was driving the victim to a hospital and notifying the man's wife of what had happened.
“When I saw him I thought: ‘Oh no not another life lost’,” Maqabe recalled of the night.“That place is a hotspot for crime after dark. I had mixed emotions and I wasn’t sure how seriously he was wounded or if he was alone. But I had to be brave.”
The victim had been stabbed in the chest and arms but managed to escape his attackers. He was bleeding for some time before the Maqabe family stopped to help him.
Other motorists had chosen to swear at the victim as he crossed the highway to try and get away.
In an impassioned letter to SAPS, the victim’s wife later thanked Maqaba for what he done.
“My husband is only alive because of his heroic act, and I cannot thank him enough,” she said.
“He will always be my, my husband's and my children's hero. My two boys still have their father, I still have a husband and his parents still have their child. All because of one person’s selflessness and bravery.”“Today, my husband is alive – not because the stab wound was not severe, or his other injuries were not serious, but because Captain Maqabe reacted swiftly and saved his life – literally!”
After getting the victim to the hospital, where he received successful treatment for his wounds, Maqaba put out a call and the victim’s stolen vehicle was recovered in nearby Delmas. One arrest was also made.
The victim, who asked not to be named, said that he had made a full recovery but was “lucky” to survive.
“The main thing is that we are very grateful to the off-duty officer,” he said.
It wasn’t the first time the soccer-mad Orlando Pirates supporter had saved someone's life.
In 2012 Maqabe, also off-duty, stopped to pull a drowning man out of a river in Welgedacht.
“It made me realise [that] policing is a calling and dedication will help you achieve things.”