Nurse who disarmed hospital gunman gives glory to God

Sister Diane Seale, left, at New Somerset Hospital in Cape Town with deputy nursing manager Salama Basardien on May 11 2022 (PHOTO:  Esa Alexander/Times Live)

A veteran nurse who calmly subdued an armed man just after he shot dead three people at the New Somerset Hospital in Cape Town on Saturday May 7 attributes her heroism to prayer and God’s intervention.

Sister Diane Seale, who hugged and chatted with the gunman until he agreed to put down his weapon and let her sedate him, shared her faith perspective on the incident in a WhatsApp response to a question sent to her by Gateway News.

“It was a Truly Divine Intervention & All the chain of Prayers conducted in the background (without me being aware) that carried me through. WE SERVE A MIGHTY GOD,” she says.

Here message continues: “I Thank God for His gentle guidance & using me as an instrument of peace, love & fellowship with one another.

“God was, is & will Always be Our Rock & Salvation. He sees a way where we see no way.

“This re-inforce the saying, which became a reality….. He will never leave or forsake us. When He takes  us to a situation, He will take us through it. It has been Ordained.

“We must just be Obediant and know that He is Lord.’

Seale’s bravery prevented other people from being killed. Speaking to health department officials last week, about what happened when she arrived at the scene of the mass shooting, Seale, who is operations manager at the hospital, reportedly said: “I walked towards him and hugged him,”

“As I entered the second floor, I noticed a body on the floor in the corridor, but my eye caught the patient with the gun in his hand. I walked straight to him and made eye contact.

“I escorted him into a cubicle. He told me to close the door. That also afforded our staff [the chance] to attend to the policeman who had been shot. I felt I could calm him down a bit. 

“Though I noted two patients had been shot and were deceased, there were still two patients who were alive that I needed to save. I kept him seated, standing in front of him, so that these patients were kept out of harm’s way,” 

I did not want to take my eyes off him. I kept on telling him we needed to talk. I dealt with him as a person. I wasn’t focused on what he had done or might still do.

“I asked him, ‘What happened?’ I reached out and touched him and he allowed me to. This gave me confidence and I knew he trusted me.

“He looked at me while my hands were still on his shoulders and said, ‘You are brave, you are the only one that has come in here’. At this point all I wanted to do was to keep him focused and calm.”

Seale said she asked him several times to drop his gun. She was unaware an armed police team had taken up position outside the cubicle.

“I took him to my chest, held him close, and he again allowed me to hold him. At least I knew there was this rapport between us.

 “My main goal was to isolate him from other staff and patients. He eventually agreed and while remaining seated I moved to the cubicle doors and became aware that the tactical team were outside. I believed that I had some control over the situation.

“There were moments [when] the perpetrator and I engaged in conversation and I could even crack a joke. 

“If he spoke to me I allowed him that opportunity, but I would always come back to the request to put the gun down. During our exchanges I lifted his face and said, do you see this uniform? I am here to save life and limb.

“Eventually he agreed for me sedate him. Through it all I sat with him, stroking his forehead until he was finally sedated. At this point I could call the tactical team to subdue him. 

“When I walked out everyone was there. My team was there and safe. This gave me the encouragement I needed to push on.”

A Sea Point policeman, Constable Donay Phillips, 32, who was guarding a patient at the hospital, Geret Carolus, 48, a patient from Atlantis, and a 42-year-old patient from Piketberrg were shot dead by the gunman.

A former policeman, Jean-Paul Carl Malgas, 39, appeared in the Cape Town Magistrate’s Court on May 10, on three counts of murder, illegal possession of a firearm and ammunition, and robbery, in connection with the shooting. The case was postponed until June 30 and Malgas had been remanded in custody.

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One Comment

  1. What an amazing event, tragic, yet it speaks of God’s intervention as Sister Diane Seale indicated.