In the past five years people have stared at him as if he’s a monster and doors were shut in his face when he applied for jobs.
His life hasn’t been easy but the fate of the man with the badly disfigured face is set to change soon. For Anton Pieterse (34) 2011 promises a new face and a new life – doctors recently told him they’re finally ready to do reconstructive surgery.
“It’s the best present I could receive,” says the man who put a gun to his head when he felt desperate one morning in 2005.
Instead of ending his life the single bullet fired from the .458 hunting rifle went through his mouth and exited at the top of his nose, leaving him alive but badly injured (YOU, 14 October).
His “best friend”, a Brazilian parakeet called Morgan, perches on his shoulder, tilts his head and listens attentively to the somewhat distorted sound of Anton’s voice, the result of the injuries he suffered.
“But now I’ll finally be getting a new face,” Anton says enthusiastically. He gives thanks for that every night and is convinced it will change his life.
At the beginning of December, he received the news that has given him hope again: the doctors are willing to attempt a series of operations to create a new face for him.
“At least six major operations, they say. And it will take about 18 months to do everything. They will close the hole in my palate, lengthen my lower jaw and build up my lower lip so I can get new teeth,” he explains.
The operations would have cost him a fortune in a private hospital but because Anton has only a meagre income the surgery will be performed free in a state hospital.
The single bullet he put into the hunting rifle when life became too much for him cut short his career as a game ranger but he has since started a small nursery, which currently boasts 800 plants. It’s housed in his mom’s garden and he sells the plants at fleamarkets, on the street and to other nurseries.
Read all about Anton's rosier future in YOU, 13 January 2011.