"He is a God sent angel. He was in the right place at the right time."
These are the words of a relieved and grateful Eunice Gazi, whose 15-year-old daughter Christine was saved from harm by fellow pupil Dylan Harris, while they were on their way to school last week.
Hoërskool Secunda and social media users praised the brave actions of the Mpumalanga schoolboy, who fought off an assailant a week ago and had his phone stolen in the process.
Offers have been pouring in on Facebook to help him buy a new phone.
Gazi had been walking through a strip of land to school on Tuesday when a man asked her for the time, her mother said.
"She said she doesn't know because she doesn't have a watch or cellphone. The man didn't believe her and asked for her phone, saying: Otherwise I will take out a knife.'"
Jumped into action
Harris was cycling through the same patch and immediately jumped into action when he saw that the girl, who was wearing the same school uniform as him, was in trouble.
She was able to run away for help while he dealt with the situation.
Harris' mother, also Christine, told News24 that she was proud of her son.
"There was one guy at first. He attacked my son and grabbed his phone and my son fought him. Another guy came out of nowhere. They ran off with his phone and he jumped on his bike and chased after them. He eventually lost them."
She said it was amazing that they did not try to steal his bike. It is a prized possession as he does mountain biking as a school sport.
Both sets of parents were relieved their children escaped physical harm. However, everyone is still a bit shaken.
Christine Harris said it was a miracle her son had been there at all.
"I always teach him, ever since the first day he wanted to take his bike to school... that before you go through there [that stretch of land], make sure there is nobody there. Don't put your life in danger. That morning he didn't listen to me," she said.
He had also left a few minutes later than normal that morning.
"He is a very helpful child and a gentleman. We always get compliments about his manners but this is the ultimate."
The pupils and their mothers met for a coffee and chat the afternoon of the incident to get to know each other and offer support.
"I said to him: 'I really thank you and appreciate you for everything you did and I will always be grateful,'" Gazi explained.
She hoped everyone would do the same and not hesitate to help their fellow citizens.
"For me, if we can have all people doing that, South Africa can be a better country; if we don't have people looking at race when they don't want to help."