SA surgeons to reconstruct face of 9-year-old boy after Zimbabwe hyena attack

accreditation
0:00
play article
Subscribers can listen to this article
Rodwell Khomazana is taken into the hospital on a gurney at the Mediclinic in Sandton on 19 June 2021.
Rodwell Khomazana is taken into the hospital on a gurney at the Mediclinic in Sandton on 19 June 2021.
PHOTO: Guillem Sartorio/AFP
  • A nine-year-old boy lost his nose, left eye, most of his upper lip, and bits of his forehead in a hyena attack.
  • The incident took place during a nighttime church service last month and left Rodwell Khomazana in need of medical care.
  • Plastic surgeons from Sandton Mediclinic are now preparing to reconstruct his face using tissue from his body. 

Plastic surgeons in South Africa are preparing to reconstruct the face of a nine-year-old Zimbabwean boy mauled by a hyena in an attack last month.

Rodwell Khomazana lost his nose, left eye, most of his upper lip, bits of his forehead and other parts of his face when he was attacked during a nighttime church service outside Harare on 2 May.

Doctors in one of the city's main public hospitals did the best they could to patch him up and stabilise his condition, but lacked the resources to fully repair his ravaged face.

Unable to afford specialised surgery only available abroad, his mother contacted medics in neighbouring South Africa, who agreed to operate on him for free in a private Johannesburg clinic.

FEEL GOOD | SA healthcare workers rally to bring Zim boy mauled by hyena to SA for reconstructive surgery

"When she mentioned the story of this poor child mauled by a hyena I couldn't say no," plastic surgeon Ridwan Mia told AFP earlier this week.

Rodwell was flown to Johannesburg on Saturday and greeted by hospital staff singing South Africa's national anthem.

Many wore white T-shirts printed with "Team Rodwell" and a drawing of the boy.

Nine-year-old boy mauled in the face
A 9-year-old boy was mauled in the face by a hyena in Zimbabwe.
Sunday Sun Supplied

They clapped and cheered as he was wheeled into the building, a green hooded sweater pulled over his head and his face covered in white bandages.

A peephole had been cut over his right eye, through which he watched cartoons on a smart tablet.

'Huge injury'

Mia and his team will perform exploratory surgery on Monday, after which they will schedule a complex operation expected to last around 20 hours.

They will use tissue from other parts of his body to reconstruct his jaw, nose, mouth and cheeks. He will also be fitted with a prostatic eye.

"Unfortunately he will have multiple scars on his face," said Mia.

He explained:

What we are hoping to do is a procedure where we minimise... the scarring.

Rodwell "will never have a completely normal, unscarred face", he warned. "But we want to give him something that will at least allow him to be functional and enjoy the things that other kids do."

Rodwell Khomazana being taken into hospital
Rodwell Khomazana being taken into the hospital on a gurney at Mediclinic Sandton.
Guillem Sartorio / AFP
9-year-old Rodwell Khomazana was mauled
Nine-year-old Rodwell Khomazana, who was mauled by a hyena, arriving at the Mediclinic Sandton Hospital on 19 June 2021.
Guillem Sartorio / AFP
Rodwell Khomazana is taken into hospital
Rodwell Khomazana is taken into the hospital on a gurney at the Mediclinic in Sandton on 19 June 2021.
Guillem Sartorio / AFP

Donations will cover the costs of hospitalisation, which is expected to last at least a month with several touch up procedures.

A hotel has offered to accommodate the child's mother during that time.

Mia said left over money would be used for therapy to help Rodwell overcome trauma.

He noted psychological support would be particularly important for him to accept his new eye.

Doctors hope Rodwell will eventually "feel like a normal boy again", Mia said.

"Unfortunately the harsh reality is we are dealing with a huge injury."


Did you know you can comment on this article? Subscribe to News24 and add your voice to the conversation.

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24
Lockdown For
DAYS
HRS
MINS
Voting Booth
Should Covid-19 vaccinations be mandatory for employees in workplaces?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Results
Yes, it is the responsible thing to do
45% - 1097 votes
No, vaccination should be an individual choice
44% - 1082 votes
No, but those who are unvaccinated should have to work from home
11% - 265 votes
Vote
Rand - Dollar
14.83
-0.3%
Rand - Pound
20.56
-0.2%
Rand - Euro
17.49
-0.1%
Rand - Aus dollar
10.88
+0.1%
Rand - Yen
0.13
+0.0%
Gold
1,797.30
-0.1%
Silver
24.74
+0.2%
Palladium
2,614.50
+0.3%
Platinum
1,054.00
-0.1%
Brent Crude
74.48
-0.0%
Top 40
62,129
+1.5%
All Share
68,299
+1.4%
Resource 10
69,768
+0.6%
Industrial 25
86,979
+2.4%
Financial 15
12,903
+0.9%
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo
Editorial feedback and complaints

Contact the public editor with feedback for our journalists, complaints, queries or suggestions about articles on News24.

LEARN MORE