Firefighters salute heroes

In front are Brenton Pretorius, Milnerton fire station commander Mark Smith and Sive Dyonase. Behind them, Milnerton firefighter s salute the two award recipients.

Milnerton fire station has saluted two young men for their bravery.

During a weekend ceremony, the station awarded Sive Dyonase, of Joe Slovo, and Brenton Pretorious, 30, of Goodwood, certificates and medals.

Milnerton fire station commander Mark Smith said they wanted to recognise heroes and those overcoming adversity.

“We as firefighters usually get all the recognition and get labelled as the heroes. But we want to show that anybody can be a hero of their own stories. We usually get to a scene, do what we are there to do and then leave. But often people’s lives are impacted by whatever incident took place there. Today is about acknowledging two young men’s bravery in different ways,” he said.

Mr Dyonase, 19, saved a 5-year-old boy from a burning flat in Joe Slovo last month.

When firefighters arrived at the scene of the fire in Sidwadwa Street on Tuesday July 7, they heard there was a boy inside one of the flats, but they weren’t able to find him.

Later, a local businessman told the department that a young autistic man had rescued the child.

Collina Dyonase said her son had a very colourful imagination and she hadn’t believed him at first when he had told her about what had happened.

“But I eventually heard from people in the community about what happened, and I was so proud of him. He isn’t well. He’s gone through so much in his life because he is 19 but sometimes he has the mind of a toddler. So it’s a very difficult experience for both of us.

“Him being recog-nised today for what he did has put a smile on both our faces, and I know this means the world to him because he couldn’t stop talking about coming here to get his award. I’m very proud and happy for him.”

Mr Dyonase said he was glad people in his community would see that he wasn’t just someone with a mental disorder.

“Some people think I’m stupid, but I hope this will show them that I can also do nice things and help others. I was really scared when I walked into that flat while the fire was happening. But when I heard the little boy crying from inside, something told me to go and help him. I got him out and took him away from where the fire was so that he can be safe.

“I can’t wait to show off my medal to my friends. I feel so happy that I was able to help the little boy, and I’m happy that someone saw what I did and gave me an award.”

Ms Dyonase said she had tried to get in touch with the family of the child her son had rescued, but it appeared they had since moved from the area.

In 2013, a gas explosion at Atlas Gardens Business Park in Contermanskloof, Durbanville, left two people dead and six injured. One of the injured was Brenton Pretorius. He lost both his legs in the blast.

Brenton, received the bravery certificate and medal for overcoming adversity. Mr Smith said he had persevered through hardships.

“His bravery is slightly different. We know it has probably not been easy to try to pick up your life and carry on in a positive way after what happened in 2013. He has fought a lot of battles, and we want him to know that we have not forgotten and admire his strength.”