With a bloody hand and a finger hanging by a thread, seven-year-old Kosie Wessels ran to his mother, Caroline Strydom, after he found a firecracker in his older sister’s room and lit it. The cracker exploded in his hands.
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Caroline, who lives in Polokwane, told YOU over the phone from Polokwane state hospital where Kosie is being treated how their lives changed forever on Saturday 3 September.
Caroline sobbed as she described the tragic accident.
The single mom was cleaning her house on Saturday and she thought Kosie, a learner at Piet Hugo Primary School, was playing somewhere in the house.
But the little boy had somehow slipped into his older sister's room. Annabelle (17) usually locks her room, but Caroline thinks she must have left it open to clean inside.
It was here the curious youngster found the cracker.
“I heard a huge bang,” says Caroline. “Kosie came running to me saying, ‘Look Mommy, my hand is gone'.”
“I took off my shirt and wrapped it around his hand. I ran into the street shouting, ‘Help, help!’ ”
“A stranger stopped. I asked him if he could rush me and my child to hospital because my child had got hurt. He rushed to the hospital with his hazard lights on.”
At the hospital the doctors gave Caroline the awful news: Kosie’s left hand would need to be amputated.
Caroline says Kosie was holding the firecracker in that hand when he lit it. He also suffered burn wounds all over his body and arms.
“His entire body is burnt,” says Caroline.
“He has so much pain and cries all time. He’ll say to me: Mommy, it hurts.”
“He doesn’t want the doctors to remove the bandages because he doesn’t want to see his hand. He asked me if Jesus is going to give him a new hand.”
Since Saturday, Caroline hasn’t slept at all.
“Every time I close my eyes I see the hand that’s gone and the flesh and the tissue.”
At the hospital Caroline isn’t allowed to stay over with Kosie.
She said it was terrible to go home. She couldn’t bring herself to clean the lounge, where the cracker exploded in his hand. Her brother-in-law came to help her.
“He told me how he had to scrape the bits of flesh off the ceiling, walls, windows and curtains. My poor child.”
“At the hospital they say Kosie needs to get used to life with just one hand and needs to be able to do things for himself. But how can he? He’s only seven years old.”