Botha, 64, a former Netcare 911 paramedic with 43 years’ experience in the field, said he had received a call from a garage owner who reported that a house was collapsing in Rockview Road just after 7am.
“I went out and although the people were not in the house that was collapsing there was a man in the house next door who was trapped inside. Fortunately, a relative had received a call to go and check on him and he broke down the door with a monkey wrench,” Botha said.
Botha, together with Stefan Bytel from PDA Health and an off-duty ER24 paramedic, made their way into the flooded property.
“The area and the entrance to the property was totally flooded with water halfway up to my knees and you never know when you put your foot down if the ground will still stand. We found the man - who had previously suffered from a stroke - lying on the ground with blood pouring down his head. And then the people outside started shouting ‘get out, the house is collapsing’,” Botha said.
However, Botha and the team remained focused on the patient.
“We had to stabilise him on a trauma board because he was complaining about neck pain. Once we had immobilised him we walked outside. As we were walking out we heard this great noise and I looked at the boundary walls which were coming down and I thought ‘we are out in time’ because things are happening fast,” Botha said.
Botha said he would remember the event as a “special” rescue because the patient had been completely helpless inside the house.
“It felt special to help a person who was really in need. When I said my prayers this morning I said ‘Lord if there is anyone who needs me to help them today, please send me to the person.’” The patient, who has not yet been identified, was transported by ambulance to Kingsway Hospital.
Jacques Coetzee, who spent most of his teenage years in the home in Rockview Road that was partially washed away, said he received a call from a neighbour on Monday evening, telling him that the house had slipped down the bank.
“I came out this morning with my daughter and saw the carnage. I bumped into the tenant and he told me everyone had vacated and everyone was safe. Unfortunately when I got here, I saw that the granny flat had been washed away and the neighbour’s wall had fallen. His garage also fell, along with his vehicles,” he said.
Coetzee said the house was owned by his elderly mother, who now lived in Australia. He said the double garage, laundry, kitchen, lounge, swimming pool, deck and jacuzzi had been washed away.
Coetzee said the tenant had been living in the granny flat while he was refurbishing the rest of the house.
Meanwhile, two homeless men who sleep on a concrete slab in the middle of a canal in Clairwood, had to be rescued by a crane.
EThekwini Fire regional commander, Sbu Mkhulisi, said that in total four men had been sleeping on the slab.
“Two of the men managed to swim to safety while two more stayed on the bridge,” he said.