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‘HELLO, lovey, I’ve been shot, I need you to help me.”
This was the cellphone call Zina Lee Rotheringham made to her husband, radio presenter Paul Rotheringham, moments after a hijacker had shot her twice through the windscreen of her Renault Clio as she sat in rush-hour traffic.
One of the bullets hit Zina Lee in the abdomen, the other one smashed into her hand.
Rotheringham said he believed that his wife’s training as an air hostess then kicked in and possibly saved her life.
Lee had dropped off friend and DJ Kieno Kammies a couple of minutes earlier, at about 5.20pm, at the Marlboro Gautrain station.
“She had decided to drive along Far East Bank Drive so she could avoid the N1. It is a route we have used often,” said Rotheringham.
At a stop street on Far East Bank Drive, a man walked in front of her car and slammed his hands on her bonnet, telling her to get out.
“He didn’t give her any opportunity to respond. He pulled out his gun and shot her twice,” said Rotheringham.
Traffic was bumper to bumper at the time.
Zina Lee drove forward, hitting the armed man, but her car was travelling too slowly, and he was able to roll off the bonnet and get away.
Then she phoned her husband.
Zina Lee’s calmness at first confused her husband. He thought she was referring to the TV shoot she had been involved in with Kammies earlier in the day.
When he realised the danger his wife was in, Rotheringham started phoning for help.
He got hold of well-known tweeter Pigspotter so that he could mobilise some of his contacts in the emergency services.
In the meantime, Zina Lee had taken her woollen beanie and, pressing it against her abdomen, drove slowly along Far East Bank Drive.
Rotheringham said he had made at least five or six phone calls to his wife, before paramedics and police got too her.
It was one of the last calls that concerned him the most.
“She said ‘ I really hope that help is nearby because I feel really drowsy’,” Rotheringham said.
Zina Lee made it to the Engen garage on the corner of London Road and Far East Bank Drive, got out of her car and walked into the shop.
The shop’s merchandiser, Busani Malinga, saw her. “She was bleeding heavily, and asked us to help her,” he said.
The injured woman then instructed staff on first aid, getting them to hold the now bloody beanie over her wound. After paramedics arrived and treated her, Zina Lee was taken to hospital.
Yesterday, Rotheringham said the wound to his wife’s abdomen was not as serious as the one to her hand.
Doctors would know the extent of the damage to her hand only once the swelling had eased in 48 hours.
As Zina Lee lay sedated in hospital, friends and those who had come into contact with her after her shooting expressed admiration for how calmly she handled the incident.