Woman burnt with iron readmitted to hospital

A woman burnt with a hot iron on her face, stomach, thighs and hands on Christmas Day and left for dead is in a stable condition after being readmitted to hospital at the weekend.

Eastern Cape health spokesman Sizwe Kupelo said yesterday: “Her face is healing very well, the doctor is happy. He is however still unhappy with her stomach and thighs. The victim sustained 11% burns on her body.”

Mihle Sibembe’s severe injuries to her stomach are what caused her to be readmitted to the Mthatha General Hospital after her mother Zodumo Sibembe, 59, reported severe pain was keeping her daughter awake all night.

Sibembe was allegedly burnt by her 30-year-old boyfriend, Thozamile Gawula, in a fit of jealousy after he saw an old picture of her and a male University of Fort Hare student on Facebook.

The incident occurred in Gawula’s home in Mthatha’s Khwezi Township on Christmas Day.

After the attack the 26-year-old law student was stuffed into a drawer beneath Gawula’s bed.

The young woman was later rescued by her mother and taken to hospital, where she was treated before being discharged.

Gawula was arrested and charged with assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm. He appeared in court and was released on bail.

A member of the Mthatha Ratepayers’ and Residents’ Association berated police yesterday for their handling of the case.

MRA member Lungelo Mpongwana said: “We are not going to blame the magistrate or the prosecutor for releasing this man on R800 bail. We are going to blame the police who visited the scene of the terrible crime and saw the victim.

“Moreover we are concerned that the accused has only been charged with assault-GBH, whereas attempted murder is the fitting crime because he waited for her to die in this drawer.”

Mpongwana said they would rally behind the victim by supporting her in court.

“We are going to protest in our numbers on February 22 when the accused appears again in court because if we let this go, these types of crime perpetrated against women and children will become the norm,” he said.

The ANC Women’s League in the OR Tambo District visited Sibembe’s family in Mbuqe township yesterday.

League convener Nomnikelo Yehana said: “Her mother is crying day and night. We have assured her that we will get the accused’s bail revoked and have him re-arrested as we are going to lay more criminal charges against him based on new information we have acquired.” — zwangam@dispatch.co.za