An 11-year-old Port Elizabeth boy’s face has been scarred after two brothers in their 20s apparently put a “cigarette” in his mouth and lit it.
The “cigarette” – a cracker – exploded in his mouth, police have said.
The explosion tore a hole on the side of Shane Witbooi’s left eye. His face is covered in thick, black scabs, both his eyes are swollen shut and he has a row of stitches on his upper lip, Netwerk24 reported.
Sebastian Pillay, 25, and his brother Demane, 27, reported to the Humewood police station on Tuesday morning to make statements about the incident. They are the sons of a Port Elizabeth police colonel.
Police spokesperson Colonel Priscilla Naidu confirmed the incident.
Annelize Witbooi, Shane’s mom, said a doctor told her that her son might be blind in his right eye. However, they would only be certain when the swelling had subsided.
“It pains me every time I see my son’s face. I want to hold him, but I can’t because he is in so much pain,” she said on Tuesday, while sitting next to his bed in the provincial hospital.
Annelize said Shane and some friends had gone to the beachfront to swim on Saturday afternoon. They’d apparently walked past a pub with an open porch when the incident happened.
Shane on Tuesday muttered through tears that he couldn’t remember much about the evening.
Fears docket might disappear
“I remember them trying to force me to smoke,” he said, before giving a version of events that differs from what police say happened next. “When I didn’t want to, they threw a rocket cracker at me and it exploded in my face.”
Annelize suspects that the two young men had mocked and assaulted Shane shortly before the incident.
“Look at the cut on Oubaas’s [as she calls him] head. It’s here at the top of his head and his left arm is bandaged.”
She sighed: “See what my son looks like now.”
Her main concern was that the docket might disappear.
“But they know I won’t let the matter go.”
The Pillay brothers appeared in the Port Elizabeth Magistrate’s Court hours after being arrested on a charge of assault with the intent of doing grievous bodily harm.
They were freed on bail of R500 each and may not contact any witnesses.
The case was postponed to March 13.