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Family’s terrible choice on boy, 7

Frere Hospital doctors were yesterday waiting for a family to give permission to switch off the machines keeping a boy of seven alive.

He was admitted at the East London hospital this week with bullet wounds to his skull and chest. The boy was declared brain dead shortly after 4pm on Wednesday by a neurosurgeon after being airlifted to Frere from Cofimvaba hospital.

Eastern Cape health spokesman Sizwe Kupelo said that after extensive medical tests the boy’s chances of survival were placed at 1%. This was because one of the bullets that hit him was still lodged in his head rendering an operation in his current condition impossible.

The young scholar, identified as Mnombo Gumede, was shot alongside his father on a dirt road in Tsojana village by unknown gunmen. The father, identified as Gumenke Ntuthuzelo, 52, by police, was declared dead on the scene by paramedics.

The incident occurred on Wednesday shortly after 8am when they were en route to the Rainbow Junior Primary School with two other pupils aged five and 11. The child was in the passenger seat of his father’s bakkie with the other two kids seated at the back.

Police said a sedan with a Cape Town registration plate pulled up alongside the bakkie and fired multiple shots. The two children at the back were unharmed but an education department official said they would receive an extensive counseling.

“Paramedics transported the boy to Cofimvaba Hospital with an ambulance and when he got there he was seen by a doctor who checked him for vital signs.

“As per protocol, the patient was referred to a neurosurgeon in East London who declared him brain dead,” Kupelo said.

Police spokeswoman Captain Namhla Mdleleni said the motive for the shooting was unknown and the suspects were still at large. She confirmed that officers had arrived at the scene of the crime and found multiple spent cartridges, which were collected for investigation.

A case of murder and attempted murder was opened at the Tsomo police station.

Kupelo said the hospital would sit down with the family and provide counseling before asking them for permission to switch off the machines.

“The patient is being ventilated until the family arrives at Frere,” said Kupelo.

“In a situation like this we sit a family down and explain the situation, including chances of survival. We have had instances where the family would ask us to keep their loved ones alive hoping for a recovery but in this case the situation is very complicated because there is a bullet lodged inside the boy’s head.

“Chances of him waking up are very minimal,” he said.

Education spokesman Malibongwe Mtima said they were “devastated and saddened” by the shooting.

“Our prayers are with the family of the pupil. We hope that the culprit will be found and will face the wrath of the law,” he said.

“We are calling for calm and pleading with the community not to take the law into their own hands.

“Our law enforcement agencies must deliver on the promise of providing justice in our society,” Mtima said. — zwangam@dispatch.co.za

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