‘SA’s youngest crime victim’ hopes to walk

2008-06-11 00:00

Pretoria — Little Courtney Ellerbeck, South Africa’s “youngest crime victim” who was rendered a paraplegic by a hijacker’s bullet while still in her mother’s womb, hopes to soon walk on crutches.

Dynamite is said to come in small packages and that is certainly true of eight-year-old Courtney, who was sitting up chatting in her hospital bed yesterday after a six-hour operation on Tuesday.

Courtney, who is a paraplegic, vehemently nodded her head to show how determined she was to walk with the help of crutches and leg braces after Tuesday’s operation in which her hips and one of her feet were straightened.

In March 2000, Courtney became, as far as is known, South Africa’s youngest crime victim.

Her mother Lesley Ellerbeck was seven months pregnant with Courtney when she was shot in the stomach during a hijacking on the East Rand.

The bullet went through Courtney’s left buttock and paralysed her lower body.

She was delivered by emergency Caesarean section.

Courtney speaks of the “bad” people who shot her mom.

“I have a dimple in my bum,” she said, but prefers to chat about other things: that she enjoys school and wants to be a chef one day.

Biscuits and rusks are among the baked goods this grade one pupil has produced.

She pedals a special bicycle with her arms and enjoys playing with her dog Princess.

She likes drawing hearts, herself and her friends.

Mom Lesley said she has had to accept what happened to them because she cannot “get yesterday back” and that she has to look forward.

“Nothing holds Courtney back.”

Last year Courtney had an important back operation to straighten the curvature of her spine.

This was in order to help her keep her posture straight while she walks on crutches, Lesley said.

Courtney will use her strong stomach muscles to push her legs forward.

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