‘He is frightened and only a child’- mom of teen who survived blaze

2016-07-01 19:07


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Cape Town - Rita Minnies’s heart broke every time she got a call from her 16-year-old son Lance, who lay in hospital with burns all over his body after a deadly Mitchell’s Plain fire.

This was because she knew she couldn’t be at his side in the solitary ward every day.

She relied on others to give her a lift when they could. He often asked for food or something to drink.

“It is very lonely in the hospital. He has nightmares and phones me in the middle of the night to talk about it,” Minnies told News24 on Friday.

She gave Lance a Bible and told him to pray often.

“He is frightened and only a child. He is very soft-hearted.”


The Grade 11 AZ Berman High pupil was retrieved from the burning Eastridge home in June.

The fire killed eight people, including five children, and injured five others.

Lance sustained burns to 99% of his body and recently came off life support.

This week he had a skin graft to his leg at Tygerberg Hospital. He subsequently sustained an infection.

Rita said her son had bandages from his elbows to his stomach, the areas worst affected by the flames.

Her son had been visiting church youth friends at the time of the fire.

“He is not into the normal things but he is very into church gospel. He told me when he is older he wants to open a business so he can buy me a house. At the moment my seven children sleep in one room.”

His popularity was clear from the number of teachers and pupils who visited him in hospital.

She anticipated his recovery would take a long time. In the meantime, both parents sat at home without jobs.

Her husband had to stop working after he was shot in 2015, while she could not clean homes since she had to available at the hospital at short notice.

“Me and my husband Henry have been through a very rough time. We don’t know how we are going to pay the hospital fees."

But even though they were battling, the price was a small one to pay to be there when the call came to come to the aid of her son, she said.

Read more on:    cape town  |  fires

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