Constable Donay Phillips. Photo: SABC

Following the shocking shooting incident inside New Somerset Hospital in Cape Town, South Africa, on Saturday evening, a 32-year-old police constable from Seapoint police station has sadly succumbed to the injuries he sustained, bringing the number of fatalities to three. But as Capetonians reel from the tragedy, a story of a brave female healthcare worker has emerged, who quite possibly prevented more loss of lives.

The Western Cape Government Health and Wellness, which confirmed the policeman’s death at 03h15, has declared those involved in the arrest of the suspect as heroes, particularly one anonymous woman. The department said it had learned of a “remarkable story of heroism yesterday evening that resulted in the perpetrator handing over his weapon”.

Apparently, after the horrific altercation and shooting, a healthcare worker (who has asked not to be named) “went into the ward and spoke directly to the perpetrator. She calmed the shooter down and convinced him to hand over the firearm. Despite the personal risk to her, she stood up to help those around her.

“This heroism possibly saved many more lives. During this dark time, we salute the staff in the ward who remained calm, who supported the other patients while all their lives were at risk. We continue to be inspired by their courage and care,” said WC Health and Wellness.

Chief Operations Officer at the WC Department of Health, Dr Saadiq Kariem, told the SABC: “The Sister who spoke the shooter down, she in fact sedated him as well, so she was able to sedate the shooter just to allow the area to be secured and all the staff just rallied around immediately. They brought the patients out of danger, moved them to the corner of the ward, looked after them there, police secured the area. The staff were just absolutely heroes on this Mother’s Day.”

WC Provincial Commissioner, Lt General Thembisile Patekile, has conveyed heartfelt condolences to the family of the deceased policeman.

The SABC has named the late police officer as Constable Donay Phillips. According to his Facebook page, he grew up in George and had become engaged to his girlfriend in March this year.

The names of the two other patients – aged 42 and 48 – who were killed during the shooting incident, are yet to be released, said SAPS. Only one family has so far been notified as the other person did not have a fixed address.

Last night police said that the Seapoint police had taken a 35-year-old suspect to Somerset hospital for medical attention when a man in the ward – who was discharged and waiting for transport to take him to the West Coast – “grabbed the firearm off a police official and shot him through the head. The man then shot two patients who were in his proximity. Both died on the scene and the 32-year-old police official was seriously injured.”

SAPS officials on the scene were able to arrest the 40-year-old shooter after the brave healthcare worker had convinced him to disarm. An investigation is underway into the circumstances surrounding the tragedy.

Staff and patients in the war, as well as the families of those who lost their lives, are receiving counselling.

WC Premier Alan Winde visited the hospital yesterday evening to speak to the staff, and this morning Provincial Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr Nomafrench Mbombo and Provincial Minister of Community Safety and Police Oversight, Reagan Allen, visited the hospital.

Premier Alan Winde said: “I am shocked and deeply saddened by the loss of three residents during this horrific incident. My deepest condolences go out to the families of the victims of this senseless act. I also want to join the Department in praising our healthcare workers who under the most trying time continued to serve the people of our province. We expect a full investigation into this matter, so that we can understand exactly what happened. This can never be allowed to happen again.”

Dr Mbombo conveyed her sympathy to the families of the victims affected by “this tragic senseless incident and wish to applaud the healthcare staff of the New Somerset Hospital for their professional and effective management of the incident going beyond their call of duty.”

Allen added: “I condemn last night’s shooting of the SAPS officer and two other persons that occurred in the New Somerset Hospital, in the strongest possible terms. The disregard for life is deplorable. It is gut wrenching that an officer should lose his life in this manner. We regard an attack on the police, as a direct attack on us all, and this cannot become the norm.”

Allen – who said the incident was “awful and heart-breaking” – hopes to visit the police constable’s family to personally convey his condolences.

WATCH Fatal shooting claims three lives at New Somerset Hospital, Cape Town