Last year was tough for her family, Anicè Kruger, the mother of burn victim Pippie Kruger, tells YOU.
Way back on New Year’s Eve in 2011, when an exploding bottle of fire-accelerant had nearly claimed her little girl’s life, she’d never have foreseen just how far-reaching the after-effects would be.
Now, more than six years after the accident, Anicè has finally realised what a huge impact the tragedy has also had on her son, Arno. He’d started suffering from nightmares and depression, fearing to go to bed at night. He’d become withdrawn, isolating himself from everyone around him.
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"The trauma was incredibly hard on my son," Anicè tells YOU.
"I’d long suspected it but when I eventually took him to a psychologist, she confirmed it. Arno suffers from depression because he feels neglected after all the years Pippie had been the focus of our attention."
Anicè confesses she hadn’t seen the warning signs from the start because she was spending so much time away from her family in Lephalale while Pippie was receiving treatment in Johannesburg. At times she’d spend every second week in Joburg – and it would eventually have a huge impact on Arno, she says.
"To him, it felt as if he’d lost his mom . . . and in a way, he did"
"One thinks the kids are stronger than they really are. Now I know it’s not the case. I’d always tried to shield him from everything that was happening to Pippie and all her treatments after the accident. But that only made him feel more and more unwanted. To him, it felt as if he’d lost his mom . . . and in a way, he did."
The last straw was a break-in at their Lephalale home last year, she says, but doesn’t want to discuss the details.
"I completely lost it. I knew something had to be done, that an intervention was needed."
So in December last year Anicè, Arno and Pippie moved in with her parents-in-law in Stilbaai in the Western Cape.
"Three weeks after that I started getting my son back. I saw him flourish, come out of his shell and stop isolating himself by locking himself in his bedroom. He started enjoying school again – even being naughty every now and again as boys his age are supposed to be.
"Here he can play in the street and we don’t have to live behind bars and walls anymore. We do karate together and build Lego – I’m his mom again, like in the old days."
Arno Kruger. (Supplied)
Arno’s stopped having nightmares and sleeps in his own room again.
Anicè’s proudest of the fact that he’s friends with his sister, Pippie, again.
"She’s not a threat anymore because mommy’s giving him as much attention. I’ve realised I have to care for both of them equally," she says.
"I drop him at school in the morning, then Pippie is home-schooled and does her physical therapy. When Arno gets home from school, it’s mother and son time. In the evenings, it’s the three of us. Their dad Erwin visits every six weeks for a week at a time.
"We don’t know for how long we’ll stay here but we’re experiencing God’s grace every day."
She’s also a different person, Anicè says.
"Waking up each morning not having to see the spot where Pippie was burnt is the greatest healing. Each of us is different now – in mind, body and spirit."
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