Anika Kara, 4, with her hero Craig de Lange Picture: Supplied

Cape Town - An off-duty fireman has been hailed a hero after he saved the life of a four-year-old girl at Goudini Spa holiday resort.

The little girl was found at the bottom of a pool, and was clinically dead for 10 minutes before Craig de Lange, 45, from Bayview, brought her back to life.

De Lange is a based at Ottery Fire Station and has been a fireman for 13 years.

Dad Ebrahim Kara, 34, explains that his daughter Anika was swimming with her older sisters on Saturday around 10am when tragedy struck.

He says Anika was wearing inflatable armbands, but their neighbour took it off when Anika went there to watch TV and eat chips.

“After a while she saw her sisters swimming at the deep end and she grabbed her armbands and put them on herself. She didn’t put them on correctly and stepped into the deep end and drowned,” the father says.

Anika Kara almost suffered brain damage Picture: Supplied

“Our neighbour was in the pool when he felt something touching his leg. He saw it was Anika and he pulled her up immediately, we don’t know how long she was down there.”

De Lange and his family were at the resort to celebrate his brother’s 40th birthday, and says he was about to go to a nearby mall for groceries.

“I was waiting for my sister and the next moment I heard my cousin screaming for help near the pool. I found Anika without a pulse, she was unresponsive and her eyes were rolled back,” says de Lange.

He immediately started performing CPR on the little girl.

“I tried for 10 minutes to revive her until she eventually came by. I turned her onto her side and all the water came out [of her mouth].

“The nearest ER24 was 18km away, so I waited with her until they came.”

Anika was taken to Worcester State Hospital, and Ebrahim says: “The doctors reports show that Anika was dead before CPR from a bystander brought her back to life. Craig didn’t just save her life, but also from a possible bad condition, like brain damage.”

Anika stayed in hospital for 24 hours and on Sunday she asked to see her hero.

Ebrahim, Anika and Naeema Kara with Craig de Lange at Goudini Spa Picture: Supplied

“Craig gave Anika a big pink teddy bear which she named Craig in his honour. She got back into the pool to swim before we went home,” says Ebrahim.

A humble de Lange tells Daily Voice: “I’m not a hero, I’m just an ordinary guy who did an extraordinary thing.”

Daily Voice