Woman can take so much pain, so much hurt, abuse, throw anything their way they will handle it like a pro, I’m talking from experience, I had been through hell back and through it all I had survived but if there was one thing I was not going to survive was losing my child. I’m strong I know that, I can handle my husband and his shady deals anytime, I can handle running away from cops, being almost sent to a mental institution, anything but not this, Lord knows there is no greater love than that of a mother for her child, and for Mthobisi to lose his mother and son senselessly like this would seriously drive him to his own grave, he would die. Someone poured my face with water, I don’t know who all I know is there was just too many people around, Mthobisi didn’t know where to go, there was me on the floor and his mother’s car filled with bullet holes, as I tried to get up with the help of strangers around me I could hear the tyres of Mthobisi’s mom’s car deflating. People told me not to stand up to soon. I told my husband I was okay, and asked where our son and his mother were, he couldn’t answer me. I watched him as he walked slowly towards the car, I had never seen my husband shaking that hard, I was shaking myself. As he opened the back passenger door I was holding my breath, his mom’s upper body slumped over and almost fell out, all I heard was the crowd of people that had gathered around to watch exclaiming “ahhhhhh” she had blood everywhere, “Oh God, please no, please, don’t let her be dead” I whispered. Mthobisi screamed asking for ambulance, paramedics, and help anything he could get, everyone was in shock and panic people wanted to help but didn’t know what to do. I went to my mother in law’s car fearing the worst, if she was looking like this what more of my son? I looked at the back seat next to my husband’s mom, my son was not there, I thought maybe he might have moved to the front seats, checked both seats in front, nothing, I was now screaming, “where’s my son, where’s my son?” Mthobisi’s mom was alive thank goodness, she kept going in and out of consciousness the few seconds she was conscious she whispered “find Neo” then passed out. Find him where? What the hell happened to my son? A lot of crazy thoughts were going through my head, oh Lord did those fools kidnap my son? Is he lying somewhere dead? The police had now arrived, you know police love to wait until the shooting has stopped and just come and take statements and act like they working, I know I’m generalising here but hey that’s how most of them are so I’m going to paint everyone with the same brush, they came to us immediately and said a helicopter was on the way to pick up my mother in law, “I shouted my son was with her and now we can’t find him”. One of the police wanted me to give a statement, “really a statement after I’ve just told you my son is missing?” I screamed at him. He asked what does my son look like I said he will look like the kid that’s lost. Some guy came he said he was a doctor and Mthobisi should put pressure on his mom’s wounds which was what Mthobisi had been doing anyway, I was moving through the crowd like a mad woman searching for Neo, I asked everyone around if they had seen my son, I took a picture of him I had on my wallet and was showing it around to people, people kept asking me where I had left him and the more I tried explaining the more tears would just run down my face and I would just break down cry, a few ladies that I didn’t even know also helped with the search, there were 2 cops following behind me who were asking questions which I honestly didn’t have answers to and even if I did this was not the time to be asking all I wanted was to find my son and make sure that he is safe. We went around the parking mall with now a few people shouting “Neo, Neo” the helicopter came and paramedics rushed Mthobisi’ s mom in and flew out, my husband’s clothes were full of blood. An ambulance also came for the few people who were not critically injured, I was shitting myself with worry not knowing whether my son was critically injured and needed to be in that helicopter as well. Mthobisi had now joined the search I was walking and praying at the same time, I was begging God to let my son be okay wherever he was and to bring him back to us, with tears running down my face.
A few minutes while the search was still going on the same doctor guy called us and shouted “I found your son, I found Neo”, we all ran to his direction, a car guard was coming out from under a car and my prayers had been answered, this female car guard had Neo underneath her, there was blood on both of them, Mthobisi and the doctor guy helped the car guard to get out from under the car, she explained that before the shooting started my mother in-law said Neo was getting wrestles in the car so she the car guard that is, offered to play with him outside, while they were playing she saw guys running out of the mall and then saw bullets flying all over the place and she grabbed Neo and went underneath the car to try and hide, she said while grabbing Neo a bullet hit her and she’s not sure if Neo also got hit, at that moment the doctor guy was checking my son, the paramedics also came, gosh my son had blood all over we couldn’t tell whether it was his blood or the car guards blood, the paramedics were attending to her. I thanked her for saving my son’s life, I could not believe that she risked her life to save my son, there really are some good people out there. Paramedics said the bleeding was coming from my son’s arm meaning he’d been shot in the arm, oh Lord no, poor Neo I think the whole thing shocked him so much only when the paramedics were touching him to check for wounds did he start crying, which made me cry even more.
My husband, car guard lady, my son and I all got into the ambulance, and were taken to hospital. On the way the paramedics asked if the car guard lady had medical aid and she said she didn’t they said they will stop the bleeding then transfer her to Bara hospital, Mthobisi said they should not do such they must make sure she is okay and not send her to Bara he will take her of her bill. We were taken to Clinton hospital in Alberton, my baby was in so much pain, I wanted to take it from him and put it on me, no child should have to suffer like that, I was dying inside just seeing him in so much pain. Luckily it was the same hospital that they had taken my mother in-law, they rushed my son to theatre and told us they need to remove the bullet from his body before it moves to other parts of his body and cause more damage, this was so terrifying. They gave us consent forms to sign to give doctors permission to operate on him and if anything goes wrong the hospital or doctors will not be held liable, how I hate these consent forms, but we had no choice, if we didn’t sign we would be putting our son in danger and doctors will not perform an operation to a minor without the parents or guardians consent, so we signed, my husband held me and told me that our son will be okay, I so badly wanted to believe that. While he was taken to theatre we had to go and find my mother in law. We were directed to another theatre she was also been operated on trying to remove the bullets from her, Lord only knew how many bullets had that poor woman had taken. We were told her operation will take hours so maybe we should go home and change. We had no car and neither of us felt like leaving the hospital we just had to be there, we could not really do much except wait, and waiting is the most torturous thing that you have to go through in these situation, wait to hear whether our son was going to be okay, and wait to hear if my mother-in law was going to survive from all those bullets that hit her. As much as I did not get along with my mother in law this I did not wish this upon her, in fact I did not wish this to my worst enemy, no one deserved this.
Mthobisi decided to call Tshepang his brother and to tell him what happened; he said he would come to the hospital that very moment. I decided to call my mom and Victor I did not want my dad I wanted Victor around, he knew how to make me feel better. Victor dropped everything and was the first one to arrive, he was so shocked when he saw Mthobisi’ s clothes full of blood, I also had blood on my clothes but not as bad as Mthobisi, Victor hugged me and the crying started all over again, he told me to cry it all out. Victor called my sister and told her to bring Mthobisi and I some clothes he also told her what happened. My mom arrived, in a state of panic, she kept searching my body trying to check if I did not get shot and maybe missed it, I told her we were inside when the shooting happened there was no way I could have been shot. One of the nurses came out and said my son had lost a lot of blood and his blood type is O negative which is not too common and they are running short of blood so Mthobisi and I needed to donate, I didn’t mind at all, she asked if we had eaten which we both answered “NO”, she said we should grab something to eat before donating blood just to make sure our sugar levels are not low. We all went to the canteen, my mom and Victor also volunteered to donate their blood even though they were not matches to my son, they were just donating cause now suddenly we were all seeing the importance of donating blood, Jessica always nags us to go donate blood cause she is a regular donor and I had been saying I will do it but always put it off. I didn’t even know what my blood type was, never thought that I would have to worry about getting someone’s blood little did I know that my son would be needing my blood one day so ignorance does catch up with you at some point in life, from that day onwards I vowed to be a regular blood donor, it could save my own life. We all went to the cafeteria to get something to eat. My sister arrived she had our suitcases in her car since we had already packed before we let the house; she also said she would donate blood.
We got the needles stuck on us to donate blood, as much as I hate needles on that particular day I could have taken 10 needles being stuck to my veins at the same time if it meant sparing my mother in-laws life and saving my son. In less than 15 minutes we were done, they needed mine and Mthobisi’ s blood urgently so we were the first one to donate, the rest followed after us. The nurse took our blood and said they were quickly going to take it to the lab and left. My sister and I went to go get some clothes for my husband and I in her car, we came back and my husband and I went to the bathroom and cleaned up a bit and changed. When we came back Mthobisi said he was going to check on his mom, I said I would go with him, we went to the theatre where she was being operated and stood outside, they were still busy inside with her. One of the doctors came out, we quickly ran to him to ask how my mother-in law was doing, he said “there was a bit of complication, your mother’s brain was without oxygen for quite some time, I’m sorry but….” Before he could finished the sentence, Koketso who had come out of nowhere I had not even realized that she and Tshepang were standing behind us, started screaming “NOOOOOOOOOOOOO”
Michael Nkuleko Maphoto (fb page)