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Seiso



Seiso, one month away from his 8th birthday, took time to help other children, by delivering presents to all the patients in the paeds surgical ward at the Steve Biko hospital on 2nd October 2012



Seiso and friends, June 2012

Sicelo and his Life Coach Michelle Bennetts and friends went to look at aeroplanes in late November 2010.

Seiso set off home to his mother and grandmother as soon as his tissue expansion had achieved the best possible result and the scars had healed.

He still has a small bald patch at the back of his head that may be tackled in 2011 or 2012.

Medical tattooing might be attempted again when he is a bit older and less likely to rub it off before the ink has set!

He is pictured here in October 2010 with his uncle Isaac and a few of his going-home gifts of clothes and toys for Seiso and his little half-brother.



Seiso is angelic in wings but maybe that's just a disguise.











Seiso leaves rice till last, September 2010















Torture survivor to get Justice for Christmas

Press Release: Justice for four year old torture survivor

For four year old torture survivor, Seiso Ratswana(CORRECT), justice has been a long time coming. After multiple postponements, the youngsters who tortured and burned him with hot liquid in August 2006, have been pronounced guilty of attempted murder. They will be sentenced on Tuesday, 9 December 2008.

The case, reminiscent of the Jamie Bulger murder case in the UK, was first heard at Garankuwa Magistrates’ Court on the 17th of September 2007. After hearing the shocking details of Seiso’s torture, the Magistrate ordered that both Seiso and his grandmother, Jennifer Ratswana should receive counselling. However, neither Ms Ratswana nor Seiso have received counselling from the state to this date.

During the court case the assailants, aged 11 and 13 at the time, claimed that they had been told by ‘the Bishop’ to kill a young boy and bring the body to him. Investigation into these claims has proved fruitless as the alleged Bishop could not be traced. He may be a figment of the assailants’ imagination or an excuse for their barbaric deeds.

People reading about the little boy’s terrible ordeal, approached Children of Fire for help. It is particular thanks to the persistence of Mr Alex Bisset of Cape Town that Seiso was brought to a medical charity where his road to healing began.

Seiso had been treated initially at Odi Hospital which did not have the skills and equipment needed. The George Mukhari (Garankuwa) Hospital was asked to help with surgery but did not do so.

Upon arriving in Johannesburg, Children of Fire in the role of guardian, obtained Seiso’s full medical file with assistance from Bowmann Gilfillan attorneys.

It became clear that there had been excessive use of antibiotics without clear testing and the child had developed painful bladder stones as a result. These had been misdiagnosed by several medical professionals.

Seiso’s first complex procedure with the charity was removal of bladder stones at Johannesburg Academic Hospital.

He was then seen by five different leading surgeons in two cities and his long term medical care, including counselling, was professionally costed at some R435 000. The little boy then had a groin contracture release at Netcare’s Milpark Hospital with Dr Gereth Edwards and Dr Pieter Beddings.

He had a subsequent groin contracture release at Johannesburg Academic Hospital. And then he started the long process to ear reconstruction, also with plastic surgeons at Johannesburg Academic Hospital.

In Children of Fire’s care, Seiso has changed from a fearful boy who used to scream even when one took a T-shirt over his head for dressing or undressing, into a well-balanced child. T-shirts around his face reminded Seiso of the time when his torturers bundled him into a bag after burning and cutting him.

Seiso started his Road to Health chart with the charity, getting vital vaccinations that had been missed out before.

Children of Fire also arranged DNA testing at Lancet Laboratories, to clarify his parentage. Seiso’s father is a private in the SANDF who had not previously formally acknowledged his son.

While the issue of maintenance remains a thorny issue between the biological parents, the charity wanted to know if the child was entitled to medical aid through the Army. Finally it has been accepted that he is entitled to that medical help and in 2009 Seiso will get his next groin contracture release from a plastic surgeon in a military hospital. If Seiso accesses private health care, it frees up a place for another child in the state sector. But as the military hospitals are in Potchefstroom and Pretoria, some procedures will still be carried out in Johannesburg so that the charity can monitor them more effectively.

The charity has worked with Seiso’s grandmother, uncle, mother and father to try to get him the best future. Seiso’s young parents are no longer a couple and his mother, who hopes that she has matriculated this year, now has another son from a different father. The social circumstances remain difficult but there is a caring extended family. Seiso feels equally at home at Children of Fire where he is much loved by Tapera, Tristan, Sizwe, Simamkele and others. He is also very fond of the two dogs Cognac and Buttons, as well as climbing the tree in search of fat purple plums or having a swimming lesson with Swim SA.

He attends school each day and learns fine motor skills, shapes, colours and pre-writing skills in Grade R at the Johannesburg School for Blind, Low Vision and Multiple Disability Children.

He has also had the chance to participate in many extra murals including cookery and drumming. He sings very well.

Seiso has travelled to the Durban seaside, to the Drakensberg Mountains where he went on the exciting Four Rivers zip line, met the King of the Amangwane Nation and visited many fire brigades. In Gauteng he has travelled to Maropeng and the Sterkfontein Caves in the Cradle of Humankind.

Seiso will have many medical procedures in the years to come. His face is largely unscarred but a large patch of scalp is missing and the process to try to restore it will start when he is about eight years old.

He will also need extensive counselling, especially in adolescent years.

Children of Fire gave evidence as a Friend of the Court about what the future would hold. It also investigated the suggestion of juvenile detention in the Western Cape, phoning seven institutions to find out what the rehabilitation of offenders involved.

The answers were not promising.

The charity is not convinced that the two assailants feel remorse or have demonstrated it.

Children of Fire is not confident that facilities exist that are small enough and personal enough to try to turn two cruel children into compassionate adults who can contribute to society.

We hope that there will some attempt at family therapy for the assailants as mothers have been remarkable for their absence and grandmothers cannot be expected to cope with the situation on their own. Fathers are non apparent.

For Seiso – he does not know that December 9th 2008 is a special day. But one day he will.

He deserves to never have to face his assailants again. While it seems likely that their period of incarceration will be short, part of the future problem is that the attack occurred next door to Seiso’s great-uncle’s home. This is a significant place for family gatherings and Seiso would want to feel free and safe to visit there.

So while protection orders and restraining orders are largely pieces of paper with limited power, Children of Fire feels that it would be reasonable to insist that the family next door should be ordered to live elsewhere.

When children commit crimes, the sentence and the solution should be for the families of the perpetrators as well as for the youthful assailants. If this is not allowable in law, then maybe it is time to the law to be reviewed.

And one day, Seiso Ratswana will google his own name or search a newspaper cuttings library.

He will not want to be remembered for some voyeuristic rehashing of his past again and again. He will want to be remembered for a smile so brilliant that it makes your heart skip a beat. An exuberance of soul. A jumping chuckling child who likes plastic motorbikes cycling at full pelt over noisy stones.

Seiso will want you to know that through being injured he has spent time with other children even more injured – and he has shown love and kindness to them.

He likes cars. And music. And singing lots and lots of songs with such a big voice that you wonder how such a little body can produce it.

Torture survivor to get Justice for Christmas

Press Release: Justice for four year old torture survivor

For four year old torture survivor, Seiso Ratswana(CORRECT), justice has been a long time coming. After multiple postponements, the youngsters who tortured and burned him with hot liquid in August 2006, have been pronounced guilty of attempted murder. They will be sentenced on Tuesday, 9 December 2008.

The case, reminiscent of the Jamie Bulger murder case in the UK, was first heard at Garankuwa Magistrates' Court on the 17th of September 2007. After hearing the shocking details of Seiso's torture, the Magistrate ordered that both Seiso and his grandmother, Jennifer Ratswana should receive counselling. However, neither Ms Ratswana nor Seiso have received counselling from the state to this date.

During the court case the assailants, aged 11 and 13 at the time, claimed that they had been told by 'the Bishop' to kill a young boy and bring the body to him. Investigation into these claims has proved fruitless as the alleged Bishop could not be traced. He may be a figment of the assailants' imagination or an excuse for their barbaric deeds.

People reading about the little boy's terrible ordeal, approached Children of Fire for help. It is particular thanks to the persistence of Mr Alex Bisset of Cape Town that Seiso was brought to a medical charity where his road to healing began.

Seiso had been treated initially at Odi Hospital which did not have the skills and equipment needed. The George Mukhari (Garankuwa) Hospital was asked to help with surgery but did not do so.

Upon arriving in Johannesburg, Children of Fire in the role of guardian, obtained Seiso's full medical file with assistance from Bowmann Gilfillan attorneys.

It became clear that there had been excessive use of antibiotics without clear testing and the child had developed painful bladder stones as a result. These had been misdiagnosed by several medical professionals.

Seiso's first complex procedure with the charity was removal of bladder stones at Johannesburg Academic Hospital.

He was then seen by five different leading surgeons in two cities and his long term medical care, including counselling, was professionally costed at some R435 000.

The little boy then had a groin contracture release at Netcare's Milpark Hospital with Dr Gereth Edwards and Dr Pieter Beddings.

He had a subsequent groin contracture release at Johannesburg Academic Hospital. And then he started the long process to ear reconstruction, also with plastic surgeons at Johannesburg Academic Hospital.

In Children of Fire's care, Seiso has changed from a fearful boy who used to scream even when one took a T-shirt over his head for dressing or undressing, into a well-balanced child. T-shirts around his face reminded Seiso of the time when his torturers bundled him into a bag after burning and cutting him.

Seiso started his Road to Health chart with the charity, getting vital vaccinations that had been missed out before.

Children of Fire also arranged DNA testing at Lancet Laboratories, to clarify his parentage. Seiso's father is a private in the SANDF who had not previously formally acknowledged his son.

While the issue of maintenance remains a thorny issue between the biological parents, the charity wanted to know if the child was entitled to medical aid through the Army. Finally it has been accepted that he is entitled to that medical help and in 2009 Seiso will get his next groin contracture release from a plastic surgeon in a military hospital. If Seiso accesses private health care, it frees up a place for another child in the state sector. But as the military hospitals are in Potchefstroom and Pretoria, some procedures will still be carried out in Johannesburg so that the charity can monitor them more effectively.

The charity has worked with Seiso's grandmother, uncle, mother and father to try to get him the best future. Seiso's young parents are no longer a couple and his mother, who hopes that she has matriculated this year, now has another son from a different father. The social circumstances remain difficult but there is a caring extended family. Seiso feels equally at home at Children of Fire where he is much loved by Tapera, Tristan, Sizwe, Simamkele and others. He is also very fond of the two dogs Cognac and Buttons, as well as climbing the tree in search of fat purple plums or having a swimming lesson with Swim SA.

He attends school each day and learns fine motor skills, shapes, colours and pre-writing skills in Grade R at the Johannesburg School for Blind, Low Vision and Multiple Disability Children.

He has also had the chance to participate in many extra murals including cookery and drumming. He sings very well.

Seiso has travelled to the Durban seaside, to the Drakensberg Mountains where he went on the exciting Four Rivers zip line, met the King of the Amangwane Nation and visited many fire brigades. In Gauteng he has travelled to Maropeng and the Sterkfontein Caves in the Cradle of Humankind.

Seiso will have many medical procedures in the years to come. His face is largely unscarred but a large patch of scalp is missing and the process to try to restore it will start when he is about eight years old.

He will also need extensive counselling, especially in adolescent years.

Children of Fire gave evidence as a Friend of the Court about what the future would hold. It also investigated the suggestion of juvenile detention in the Western Cape, phoning seven institutions to find out what the rehabilitation of offenders involved.

The answers were not promising.

The charity is not convinced that the two assailants feel remorse or have demonstrated it.

Children of Fire is not confident that facilities exist that are small enough and personal enough to try to turn two cruel children into compassionate adults who can contribute to society.

We hope that there will some attempt at family therapy for the assailants as mothers have been remarkable for their absence and grandmothers cannot be expected to cope with the situation on their own. Fathers are non apparent.

For Seiso - he does not know that December 9th 2008 is a special day. But one day he will.

He deserves to never have to face his assailants again. While it seems likely that their period of incarceration will be short, part of the future problem is that the attack occurred next door to Seiso's great-uncle's home. This is a significant place for family gatherings and Seiso would want to feel free and safe to visit there. So while protection orders and restraining orders are largely pieces of paper with limited power, Children of Fire feels that it would be reasonable to insist that the family next door should be ordered to live elsewhere.

When children commit crimes, the sentence and the solution should be for the families of the perpetrators as well as for the youthful assailants. If this is not allowable in law, then maybe it is time to the law to be reviewed.

And one day, Seiso Ratswana will google his own name or search a newspaper cuttings library.

He will not want to be remembered for some voyeuristic rehashing of his past again and again. He will want to be remembered for a smile so brilliant that it makes your heart skip a beat. An exuberance of soul. A jumping chuckling child who likes plastic motorbikes cycling at full pelt over noisy stones.

Seiso will want you to know that through being injured he has spent time with other children even more injured - and he has shown love and kindness to them.

He likes cars. And music. And singing lots and lots of songs with such a big voice that you wonder how such a little body can produce it. Seiso is a great kid. He's a survivor.







Pretoria News 25 March 2009



Seiso Ratswana with Children of Fire’s British volunteer Ellen Phillips in hospital this afternoon


One chapter in Seiso’s Ratswana’s life has been closed today. The four year old boy was tortured by burning, by other children in 2006, when he was still a tiny toddler. Since then, he has had a life of painful surgery intermingled with happier recovery periods.

The Garankua Magistrates Court has sentenced the two children who had pleaded guilty to his attempted murder, to be held at a Juvenille Detention Centre near Cullinan for five years.

They can be released early into correctional supervision, for good behaviour.

The magistrate questioned that, as both boys had shown no mercy to Seiso, “why should the court show them mercy?”

She commented that the crime was pre-planned and that only one of the perpetrators had shown a little remorse. The other had shown none. The magistrate added: “The only thing between you and 15 years in jail is your age. If you were 18 today, you would have been sent to prison for 15 years.”

Africa’s first burns charity Children of Fire (ChiFi) has been assisting Seiso since 2006.

ChiFi has put the child through repeated surgery for his severely damaged groin area and the damage to his head.

Seiso has had operations with the best reconstructive surgeons at Netcare’s Milpark Hospital, the Johannesburg General Hospital and the 1 Military Hospital in Pretoria.

Between surgery, he has been attending Grade R at the Johannesburg School for Blind, Low Vision and Multiple Disability Children and undergoing wider rehabilitation.

This morning he underwent further surgery to his left ear, at the Johannesburg General Hospital. The vertical release brings the ear into a more normal position, with skin grafted behind the ear.

The surgeon Dr Ridwan Mia also released his right ear as well. [release refers to the skin being too tight; it shrinks with the heat damage of the burn].

ChiFi is dismayed at the short sentence, particularly at the potential for early release.

Director Bronwen Jones said: “While we believe in forgiveness and in the reintegration of child offenders into society, none of our research to date convinces us that effective rehabilitation of the offenders will be achieved.”

ChiFi assessed the facilities at different juvenile detention centres in South Africa and found that there is too little education and too little individual psychological help.

There is a high chance that offenders will leave a facility with worse characteristics than when they entered it. They are also unlikely to matriculate. [complete schooling]

Jones commented: “It has been notable that the fathers of the perpetrators were absent throughout the many court appearances. If they had had a better family structure, the permanent damage to Seiso might not have happened.”

The Juvenile Detention Centre is ordered to provide schooling, as well as training programmes in life skills, anger management, Aids and crime prevention. They will receive psychological treatment. Seiso does not understand what was done to him, nor the sentencing today.

The court had previously ordered that his grandmother Jennifer Ratswana and Seiso should both be provided with counselling, by the state. This has not been provided.

Jennifer had a heart attack in December 2008, attributed to the stress of the prolonged court case.

Seiso’s parents split up after his injury but they have recently reunited. Children of Fire expects the little boy to return to their care by May 2009 and to return to the charity periodically for further surgery in the years to come.

Jones added: “Seiso might wish to instigate civil action when he is older. “We think that the Ratswana family deserves to be left in peace but they could fear the day when the attackers are released. “The fact that one of the boys is likely to return to live next door to the Ratswanas, could further traumatise a sweet young boy who has been to hell and back. He is still only four years old. Seiso should have the chance to forget.” The charity thanks the many surgeons, doctors, nurses, therapists, lawyers and volunteers who have helped Seiso since he was assaulted.



Seiso 4th birthday







A happy boy among the flowers in October 2008 at Children of Fire, after ear surgery at Jo’burg Gen.

He had his teeth checked at Wits University Dental Department on 17th October 2008 and all was well.

These are pictures of Seiso Ratswana, now aged four years old. They were taken shortly after he was attacked by other children, when he was less than two years old.

His attackers are due to be sentenced on 18th February 2009.
























PRETORIA NEWS News 3
MONDAY AUGUST 25 2008


Read Seiso's story in pdf format



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