19th Oct 2017 11:39:19 PM

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Samukelo Radebe
We first met Samukelo in 1999, after he had suffered electrical burns. Samukelo played, throwing a wire kite near a pylon. The power cables were allegedly hanging lower than they should have been. Even if that were not the case, it is common in southern Africa for boys to be burned in this way, especially where they use the the wire from a burned car tyre to throw or in part of a kite's construction. Typically the electricity goes through the hand and arm and exits (earths) via the feet, often arcing through the head as well. There are many arguments as to the type of cable that should be used and the problems are exacerbated by the high rate of cable theft by adults, many of whom die as a result of their actions. In February/March 2000, Samukelo, then aged 10, had tissue expanders put in his head courtesy of reconstructive surgeon Martin Kelly and Netcare's Sunninghill Hospital, on the edge of Greater Johannesburg. The skin was advanced over the hole in his head in stages. And the armpit contracture was also released. Once that all healed, he was able to cope with shoulder straps for prosthetic hands. However he found the hands heavy and cumbersome and generally manages better with his stumps. He lost both hands due to electrocution and burns. When he is 18 years old, if funds are available, it would be appropriate to fit him with electromechanical hands. Samukelo's father Peter decided to bring a case against electricity parastatal Eskom, alleging that it was the company's negligence in educating the public about electricity, that led to children being burned in this way. The case was set for November 2001, then postponed ot 8th November 2002. It was in court for some eleven days and then postponed yet again until June 18th, 2003. The case continues and is attended in the High Court in Pritchard Street, Johannesburg, on most days by one of the UMashesha volunteers. Legal firm Roos and Wessels (adv. Pete Voges) is handling the case for Samukelo on a contingency basis. If he wins, they will get a percentage of the claim. If he loses, the family will not be liable for any costs. Samukelo is now 13 years old and attending Ezibeleni School for Disabled Children. His father says that he is coping well and that he is happy. He would like to be an astronaut when he grows up. Children of Fire mainly assists the family in an advisory capacity, as Samukelo has a supportive family and his father has a supportive employer.

Samkelo (March 2007) lost his hands after playing with wire next to an electricity pylon. He is keen to point out the dangers of electricity to other people.




Samkelo adopts a different stance to start running a race as he has no hands to place on the ground.


Samukelo went to talk to the doctors about his facial keloids on April 30th






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