Pretoria - The paramedic who arrived on the scene two minutes after receiving a call that Corrie Sanders had been shot, turned out to be a long-time friend of the former heavyweight boxer.
Danie Booyens of Hartbeespoort Netcare 911 even told his superiors to waive Sanders’s ambulance bill because he was a close personal friend.
Sanders was shot during an armed robbery at the Thatch Haven Country Lodge outside Brits on September 22, 2012, while attending his nephew’s 21st birthday party.
Three Zimbabwean nationals, Samuel Mabena, Chris Moyo and Paida Fish, are on trial for the murder. They have pleaded not guilty.
The accused also face charges of malicious damage to property relating to two damaged vehicles at the lodge, robbery, unlawful possession of a firearm and ammunition, and attempted murder after one of the guests was wounded.
The trio were arrested days after the incident in the Oukasie informal settlement, outside Brits.
Booyens was called to testify in the High Court in Pretoria on Tuesday.
He had known Sanders since the 1980s and they played cricket and rugby together.
“I was at home when I received the call to go to Thatch Haven at 7.15pm,” Booyens testified.
He was at the scene two minutes later and found Sanders lying on his side in a pool of blood. He had been shot in the arm and abdomen.
“After stabilising Sanders we loaded him in the ambulance and drove in the direction of Pretoria where the closest trauma unit was.”
While on their way, emergency services personnel called ahead to the George Mukhari Hospital in Ga-Rankuwa but were told there were no beds in the intensive-care unit.
“We called Steve Biko Academic Hospital and the nurse said they did not have a bed in the ICU available for Corrie. She advised us to try Kalafong Hospital,” Booyens said.
The ambulance arrived at Kalafong Hospital in Atteridgeville more than 40 minutes after leaving the lodge because it had to change course after being told the other hospitals did not have space.
“Sanders was a priority one patient, meaning he could not wait. His pulse was fast but weak. We administered two drips,” Booyens said.
Sanders died in hospital the next day.
“We decided it was unreasonable to send an account. We waived the bill because he was my personal friend and it didn’t seem right,” he said.
Another victim, who was shot in the leg during the robbery, was also called to the stand on Tuesday.
Lourens van den Berg said he had heard shots while guests were dishing up food but thought it was fire crackers.
He saw three suspects with firearms and dived to cover his wife to protect her. They lay under a table until the robbers fled minutes later. “That’s when I felt something had hit me in my right thigh,” he said.
Doctors confirmed he had been wounded by shrapnel.
Accused Chris Moyo’s girlfriend, Margaret Rantlhako, also took the stand on Tuesday but was unable to finish her testimony because of a head injury. She is the mother of Moyo’s 2-year-old son.
The day after the shooting, Rantlhako returned to the RDP house she shared with Moyo after a visit to her aunt. She found him with a man she believes to be accused number one, Fish.
“Chris had two handbags and a silver Nokia cellphone with him that he said he had bought for me. I said I didn’t want the items and told him so from the onset,” she said.
Days later she used one of the handbags, which turned out to be stolen, when she took her son to the clinic. Moyo was asleep at the time.
“When I returned I saw police coming towards our house with accused number one,” she said.
Moyo was arrested and the handbags confiscated. “Days after the arrest, I was at my neighbour’s house with a bag of diapers. When I wanted to use one of the diapers I found the same Nokia cellphone tucked in between the diapers.
The matter continues on Wednesday.