Teen set alight in fight

2018-04-24 16:15
A Northdale resident comforts Lahore Road tenant Shami Govender after she learnt her friend and housemate was critically burnt, allegedly by her boyfriend.

A Northdale resident comforts Lahore Road tenant Shami Govender after she learnt her friend and housemate was critically burnt, allegedly by her boyfriend. (Ian Carbutt)

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Police are on the hunt for a 31-year-old man who allegedly beat his teenage girlfriend with an iron pipe and then set her alight on Monday “because she did not clean his room”.

The 17-year-old girl suffered critical burns to her arms, chest, upper back, face and head.

Police had initially arrested the man but released him when the girl said she did not want to press charges.

However, Mountain Rise police spokesperson Captain Gay Ebrahim said on Monday afternoon the victim was being intimidated by the suspect and the state has now registered a case of attempted murder against the man.

Emergency services rushed to Lahore Road in Northdale on Monday morning following reports of a house fire, only to find a young girl in flames, begging for help outside the burning house.

Ebrahim said the couple had a fight on Monday morning, allegedly due to the young girl not wanting to clean her older boyfriend’s room.

“He thereafter beat her with an iron pipe ... and allegedly then poured petrol on her and set her alight.”

The young girl, whose name is known to The Witness, was rushed to Edendale Hospital for 40-45% partial thickness burns.

ER24 Advanced Life Support paramedic Andrew Rogers said partial thickness burns are the most painful and most likely to become infected due to the massive blistering.

The double-storey house is home to multiple families with children who witnessed the incident and who have now been left destitute after the fire gutted the second storey, where five families lived.

Tenant and friend of the injured girl Geraldine Rohanlall said the couple had started fighting early in the morning because she did not want to do the dishes. “The next minute, I heard the children screaming and I saw her [the victim] running out the room with her head on fire.

“People were pouring water on her but it didn’t work. My husband just grabbed our children and ran out of the burning house,” she said.

“She was in flames. She ran through the house to get outside and she was just screaming ‘please someone help me. I am dying. Please get help’.

“I cannot believe this has happened to her. We had become good friends. My heart is broken,” she said.

Rohanlall added that the fire had completely destroyed her family’s belongings, leaving her and her two-month-old baby with nothing.

Another tenant, who could not be named as she is a minor but had permission from her mother to speak to the press, said she had seen the man pour petrol over the girl’s head and set her alight.

She said her six-year-old sister was in the room and had to dodge through the flames to make it outside alive.

Fortunately, the little girl was not injured.

Another tenant, Rushina Juglal, also said she heard the couple fighting from early in the morning.

She said she was in the bathroom and could hear the man hitting and shouting at the teenager.

“I heard him take her to the room, then there was screaming and she ran out the room in flames.”

With the teenager recovering in hospital, the families left destitute by the devastating fire said they would be sleeping in the field next to the house.

Rohanlall said some community members had already donated blankets and mattresses to the families who lost their belongings in the fire.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  attempted murder

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