Two men hailed as heroes after rushing child to hospital after she was shot in hit on Ernie ‘Lastig’ Solomon
“Help, please help!” The soft plea came from a man with multiple gunshot wounds in the passenger seat of a car riddled with bullets. He was covered in blood and holding onto a crying baby, who had been shot too.
The driver of the white BMW lay dead, while a woman in the back seat was injured.
This is how two security guards, who were first to respond, described the crime scene of the hit on Cape Town gang boss Ernest “Ernie Lastig” Solomon, who was assassinated in Boksburg on the East Rand last week Friday.
Euon Brouers from Graphite Security said he could vividly recall the screams of the one-year-old child who had been wounded in the shooting.
“She was crying like she was in pain. She had a gunshot wound to her stomach and her leg,” Brouers told TimesLIVE on Thursday.
A few minutes before the shooting, Brouers and his colleague Vogan Kepkey were having breakfast at the corner of Rondebult Road and Kingfisher Avenue. This is a regular “get-together” spot for crew members of Graphite Security.
“We come together, buy food and eat together out of the boot of our cars as a team building spirit,” he said.
Just after 8am, Brouers and Kepkey heard the squealing sound of tyres.
“When we looked down the road, we saw a white Ford Ranger bakkie ramming into a white BMW,” Brouers said.
The bakkie came to a standstill in front of the BMW. Quickly a man wearing a black cap and surgical mask got out, Brouers said. The man, who was armed with a rifle, opened fire on the BMW.
“He started shooting – like really started shooting.”
A few seconds later, a silver Ford EcoSport pulled up next to the BMW. A man carrying a handgun got out and also opened fire on the BMW. The gunmen abandoned the Ford bakkie and got into the EcoSport before fleeing the scene.
“The whole incident took like 10 seconds.”
While the gunmen were fleeing the scene, Brouers said he hurriedly put on his bulletproof vest while Kepkey made his way to the nearby traffic light on foot.
According to Brouers, as the silver Ford EcoSport sped past the them, the driver of the vehicle pointed with his finger at Kepkey.
“The driver pointed towards him [Kepkey] but then also spotted me, and then Vogan [Kepkey] shouted: ‘Euon, in front of you!’ – and when I looked I saw a guy pointing a rifle from the back seat out of the window of the EcoSport and opening fire on me.
“That’s when I retaliated and fired back and there was a shoot-out between us. They managed to flee.”
‘I just pictured my own child’
Brouers said they then rushed to the crime scene.
“We found a man in the driver seat, who looked like he was already dead. In the passenger seat sat a second man.”
He said when they opened the door the man covered in blood and who was holding a child in his arms, fell from the car onto the ground. He softly asked for help.
“Vogan asked if he could help the baby and he agreed and he let go of the baby. Vogan picked up the baby to make sure that she was not injured, but we saw she had bullet wounds on her stomach and right leg.
r law officials and bystanders had arrived on the scene.
Brouers and Kepkey then rushed the child to Sunward Park Hospital.
On their arrival, nurses and doctors immediately attended to the little girl, Kepkey said.
“I ran to the emergency room, found a nurse and I told her that the baby was shot. Within seconds, many nurses and doctors surrounded the baby to assist. The only thing that went through my mind was, we all have children. I just pictured my own child.”
According to Brouers, the man who held the child in the passenger seat “actually saved her life”.
“The baby was sitting in front of the man and as soon as the shots went off, he turned his back towards the shots because he had multiple gunshot wounds in his back.
“He is the actual hero, because if it wasn’t for him, she [baby] would have also probably had 15–20 shots in her body,” he said.
When the two arrived back at the scene, it had been taken over by police and emergency services.
Brouers said after the patients – one woman and a man – were airlifted to hospital and the pictures for evidence were taken by SAPS, they assisted officers in minor tasks to clear the road.
“We came across some CDs and DVDs which had his face [Solomon] on it. The DVDs were called A Lucky Man. On top of the cover was written ‘Ernie Lastig Solomon’.” The movie, released in 2016, was based on his life.
“I am telling you there were more than 10 phones on the scene searching on Google to see who this Ernie ‘Lastig’ Solomon is.”
Brouers and Kepkey, who have been hailed heroes on social media for rushing the child to hospital, said they were just doing the job they loved.
“Honestly speaking, we didn’t do it for publicity – we just acted how God wanted us to act at that moment. I appreciate what people say on social media, but we didn’t do it for fame. We love our job and fortunately we were at the right place at the right time to save that baby’s life,” Kepkey said.
Brouers said: “I didn’t do this for publicity. If I could save a life, I would go out of my way and it’s not about being famous. Saving a life means so much, because no-one wants to stand next to an open grave.”
On Thursday morning, Gauteng police spokesperson Capt Kay Makhubele said the second man shot in the incident had also died in hospital.
Makhubele said the woman and child are still in hospital.
“Police are still searching for the suspects and calling for anyone who has information to contact their nearest police station or call 08600-10111.”
BY Iavan Pijoos