Cape Town man on ventilator, woman suffers 'excruciating' burns after petrol bomb attack

  • Three people were in a transit van when it was petrol bombed in Mfuleni.
  • Their vehicle had been surrounded and attacked by a crowd during a violent protest.
  • The man remains on a ventilator while the woman is suffering "excruciating pain" from burns sustained in the attack.

A Cape Town man is on a ventilator in intensive care while a woman is suffering from "excruciating" burns after being petrol bombed by protesters near Cape Town's N2 highway.

The pair were seriously injured during an ambush in Mfuleni on Tuesday in one of numerous violent protests which unfolded in Cape Town last week.

A crowd surrounded and attacked their vehicle.

The man is in the intensive care unit at Tygerberg Hospital following the petrol bomb attack.

The two, who have asked not to be named in fear of their safety, are colleagues.

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The vehicle had been driven by the woman's husband, who escaped uninjured.

After their ordeal, the woman's employer told News24 she had sustained wounds to her thighs, head as well as her hand, which "basically... has no skin".


"The fact that they didn't all die, is a miracle," she said. "The petrol bomb exploded in the vehicle [a transit van] and [the man] jumped out of the window to try and get out. Glass pieces, fire, smoke everywhere."

The woman's dress had also burnt and the front of the van had been in flames.

"Yet they could drive to the hospital. [The man] sitting at the window got the worst with inhalation and head wounds... and hand wounds, trying to get rid of the fire in the vehicle."

The woman's husband may not have sustained physical injuries, but was traumatised by what had happened, the employer said.

The woman after the petrol bomb attack near Mfulen
The woman after the petrol bomb attack near Mfuleni.

The husband said the attack was traumatic, and described that day as a "sorrowful one" in which his wife sustained third degree burns by "homemade hand grenades".

On Sunday, the employer said the woman had been taken back to hospital as the wounds were "not looking well".

"She is in excruciating pain. I almost passed out just sitting nearby, seeing her pain. We were just praying, while they were cleaning the wounds. It was very, very painful, and very traumatic."

The employer added somberly: "She is sleeping now. It's her birthday today."

The Western Cape government this week said it condemned the "violent and destructive protests and land invasions… which have resulted in injuries to our citizens, damage to property, and which will impact government's ability to provide key services to our most vulnerable residents going forward".

"Many of these land invasions and protests appear to be coordinated efforts by a select few to profit from these attacks and invasions," it said in a statement.

"The Western Cape Department of Human Settlements is committed to assisting those with housing needs, who have followed the procedures to register on our housing database. We will not allow those who are breaking the law and inciting violence to jump the housing queue ahead of people who have legitimate claims, and who have followed all the correct processes."

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