When Nicholus Mbatha graduated as a nurse last week, he had little idea that his new skills would be put to the test before he even got home.

Mbatha, 23, who did two years of training with Netcare Education, was on his way to a taxi rank in Joburg when he came across a woman in labour on the pavement. So he did what he was trained to do: he rolled up his sleeves and offered his help. First he called an ambulance and then promised to stay with her until it came. “She was having contractions so I reassured her that an ambulance was on its way, and advised her to breathe deeply and try to relax,” said Mbatha.

But before the ambulance arrived, her water broke and he knew that he was about to deliver his first baby without any of the usual equipment. “The skills I learnt at nursing school came in handy, and although I had never delivered a baby I felt in complete control,” said Mbatha.

“I remember some of the bystanders becoming a little alarmed, but I had no trouble doing what needed to be done.”

The mother was also surprisingly calm, he said. “I told her who I was and she trusted me with her life.” During the delivery the University of Johannesburg’s Protection Services arrived with a first aid box. “It was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. Just seeing the baby’s face and knowing that he was in good health made my day,” said Mbatha.

An ambulance arrived shortly afterwards and took mom and baby to hospital to be checked.

Mbatha plans to visit mom and baby soon and said he looked forward to delivering many more babies during his career.