Jack Arthur Williams, 40, says the girl was at “death’s door” as he was rushing her and her mother to Red Cross Children’s Hospital.
But before they could get there, traffic cops pulled him over, gave him a fat fine and confiscated his professional driving permit.
“I told him [the officer] this is an emergency. I said if he doesn’t want me to drive, then he can take the child, but he said he isn’t an ambulance,” says the upset driver.
Jack, who is the son of the head of the Mitchells Plain Taxi Association and himself a dad of six, says he had been travelling along Eisleben Road in Lentegeur on Thursday just after 7am when he was flagged down by a frantic 37-year-old woman, who had her 13-year-old daughter with her.
He says the desperate mother asked him to rush to Red Cross because her child had suffered several epileptic seizures and they could not wait for an ambulance.
He says the girl’s tongue had started turning blue and her eyes were rolled back in her head.
“When I saw what condition the child was in, I didn’t hesitate, I asked the passengers if I can take her to hospital. The 12 passengers said ‘driver, drive!’”
Jack says he knew he would probably encounter traffic officials at that time of the morning and put on his hazards as he drove on the shoulder of the road.
He was stopped by cops along Thornton Road.
Jack says a “heartless” traffic cop ordered him to hand over his licence and permit and to remove the child from the vehicle despite him explaining that it was a medical emergency.
He says he then jumped out of the taxi, grabbed the child and he, the child and her mother caught another taxi to the hospital.
“I left the taxi there because I am a father and this is a life,” he explains.
He says a sympathetic doctor gave him a letter stating he had saved the girl’s life.
The letter reads: “Mr Jack Arthur Williams was escorting the patient to hospital as she was having epileptic seizures and he needed to get the patient to hospital as her airways were compromised.”
Jack says when he returned to his taxi, he was fined R6 000 for inconsiderate driving and his PDP was returned.
The child’s mother, who asked not to be identified, says Jack is her hero, and is asking authorities to scrap the fine.
“The traffic cop said I should have taken an ambulance, but I could not wait because she already had ten seizures,” the mom explains.
“I think it is unnecessary to fine him, they could have escorted us to hospital.”
She says her daughter will soon go under the knife, but doctors will continue tests this week.
Richard Coleman, Traffic Services spokesperson, confirms the fine and adds: “The Traffic Services officer involved in this incident apologised to the mother of the child, which she accepted.”
Jack is due to appear in the Wynberg Magistrates’ Court in November where he hopes a magistrate will scrap the heavy fine.