FREE STATE – An exceptional police officer went above and beyond the call of duty to rescue a distressed and depressed pensioner from a flooded river in the Free State, South Africa. Constable Moleko Mabe, from the Phuthaditjhaba Police Station, risked his life to save hers, despite only having amateur swimming skills.
The rescue happened on Monday morning, shortly after Constable Mabe, left home. It was around 05h30 and he’d just climbed into the police van, alongside his partner for the day, Warrant Officer Mandla Mothapo, when they heard over the two-way radio that an elderly woman had been seen in the flooded Kgoptjane River, which is just behind the police station.
The two South African Police Service (SAPS) officers immediately rushed to the scene… where community members were helplessly gathering on the bridge.
“I heard the granny screaming in the bushy area, already inside the river, asking for help. I couldn’t even see her, but used my amateur swimming skills and made my way through the thorny branches and into the muddy Kgoptjane River,” said Constable Mabe.
“The water was flowing heavily as a result of showers of rain. I finally saw her holding onto a branch of a tree but (it) was a bit difficult to reach out to her due to dense branches. I finally took the risk, and dived into the flooded river until I reached her.
I was not afraid to drown as my focus was to rescue the granny
“I was not afraid to drown as my focus was to rescue the granny. I told her that I am here to rescue and save her life. It was (a) frightening moment for her. She asked me how I am going to rescue her seeing that I don’t even have a rope. I asked her to take a grip of my belt, as I started swimming with her towards the bank of the river.
“I spent almost five minutes in the river struggling to reach the bank. Another elderly person, by the name of Mr Mathe, came down to the steep bank to lend a hand. I was breaking the tree branches to pave my way, keeping focus on the safety of the granny, and ensuring that she doesn’t lose her grip,” said the brave policeman.
When Constable Mabe finally reached the river bank, Mr Mathe helped pull him out of the water until both he and the granny were safely on the ground.
“We both walked the granny slowly towards the road,” Mabe said… although their adventure wasn’t over. There was a snake in the path!
“I saw the snake in the grass along the way, but couldn’t mind it as my mind was to get the granny to safety,” said Mabe.
The policeman revealed that the woman was Emma Tlaleng Mahloko (67) from Mangaung Village in Phuthaditjhaba. Sadly, she told Mabe “that she wanted to commit suicide because she could not cope with debts back at home. We brought her to the police station where she was reunited with her family.”
Free State Provincial Commissioner Lieutenant General Baile Motswenyane said he has been touched by the selflessness of Constable Mabe.
“The member did not think twice before saving the granny whose life was in danger. In so doing, he risked his own life. There is no doubt that Constable Mabe was not merely performing a duty, he truly lives his calling. He is an example to other police officials,” said the Provincial Commissioner, in a SAPS statement.
South Africans around the nation have rushed to praise Constable Moleko Mabe: “You’re so brave my brother 👏👏this is not about your work… but about saving someone’s life👏👏these are the people who deserve to be celebrated…” said one. Another added: “This police officer is a hero and a true patriot. Such officers deserve promotions in the SAPS. Well done Constable. May God bless you abundantly!!!”