Cape Town - The policeman killed during a shooting at New Somerset Hospital, has been described as an officer who took pride in his work and carried his SAPS badge with dignity.
On Saturday evening, a 40-year-old suspect, who was a patient at the hospital and about to be discharged, allegedly managed to disarm a police officer and fire several shots.
In the process, he is alleged to have fatally wounded two men aged 42 and 48, and seriously injured the officer, who later succumbed to a gunshot wound to the head.
Health and Wellness MEC Nomafrench Mbombo said the suspect was awaiting transportation to the West Coast when he accosted Constable Donay Phillips, 32.
Mbombo said Phillips was accompanying a suspect in the hospital’s surgical ward when he overheard an altercation in another cubicle and went to check what happened.
Police spokesperson Novela Potelwa said as Phillips went to investigate, the suspect grabbed his service firearm and shot him in the head.
“The suspect then proceeded to shoot two patients in his proximity. Both died on the scene, while Phillips later succumbed to his injuries on Sunday morning.”
Potelwa said an investigation into the incident was under way, and the suspect was remanded in custody.
Sea Point station commander Helena Mouton said Phillips joined the police in 2017.
“Constable Phillips was a dedicated and well-disciplined police official who performed his duties with pride and to the best of his ability. His colleagues recall a very neat constable who was exemplary in conduct and friendly.
“In uniform, he carried the SAPS badge with dignity. As Sea Point SAPS, we have lost one of our best officers. Constable Phillips is mourned by all at the station ,” Mouton said.
Asked if the department would be implementing additional safety measures at its health-care facilities, Health and Wellness spokesperson Mark van der Heever said that while it was unfortunate the incident was isolated.
Van der Heever said: “A health facility is a place of healing, and we do as much as we can to safeguard our staff and patients. However, criminal aspects remain, and we need our society as well to play a role in protecting our facilities.”
Premier Alan Winde visited the hospital to speak to staff on Saturday night, and on Sunday morning Mbombo and Community Safety and Police Oversight MEC Reagen Allen also visited the hospital.
After the shooting, a health-care worker, who has asked not to be named, reportedly went into the ward and spoke directly to the suspect, convincing him to relinquish the firearm, according to the Department of Health and Wellness.
“She calmed the shooter down and convinced him to hand over the firearm. Despite the personal risk to her, she stood up to help those around her. This heroism possibly saved many more lives.”
Winde said he was shocked and saddened by the incident.
He said: “My deepest condolences go out to the families of the victims of this senseless act. I also want to join the department in praising our health-care workers who under the most trying time continued to serve the people of our province. We expect a full investigation into this matter so that we can understand exactly what happened. This can never be allowed to happen again,
“The disregard for life is inexcusable. It is gut-wrenching that an officer should lose his life in this manner. We regard an attack on the police as a direct attack on us all. It cannot become the norm.
“I’d like to express my heartfelt condolences to the family and all loved ones, including the men and women in blue who have been affected by this hideous crime. I’ve already engaged with the provincial commissioner, and I hope to visit the family to convey my condolences. This incident was awful and heartbreaking.”