Kukhanya - a young burn survivor’s tale

Mary-Anne Gontsana
Kukhanya stands with his aunt who is his legal guardian. Photo by Mary-Anne Gontsana.
Mary-Anne Gontsana

Seven-year-old Kukhanya Ngxumza suffered severe burns when he was only a few months old. Today, he is teased at school, but he doesn’t let bullies win.

Kukhanya is shy as he makes himself two slices of bread after coming home from school. He hides in the bedroom as he listens to his aunt tell GroundUp about his story.

When Kukhanya was still small, his mother was outside when a paraffin lamp accidentally fell on his bed, setting it alight. He reached for a towel to cover himself, but the towel was in flames. By the time his mother rescued him, Kukhanya had burns to his face, hands, thighs and legs.

“In 2008 Kukhanya came to Cape Town with his mother after she could not afford taking him to hospital in the Eastern Cape anymore. When he arrived here he was about two-years’ old. His bandages had been removed … We started taking him to Red Cross Children’s Hospital for further treatment and check-ups.”

Ngxumza is Kukhanya’s legal guardian, as his mother did not work and she only saw Kukhanya twice a month when she could. His father had separated from Kukhanya’s mother when he was still a baby.

“Kukhanya is a happy child, him and my five-year-old daughter are the best of friends and he loves drawing. There have been many instances where he has been made fun of, and he will tell me about it, but he rises above that.

“He does get into fights at times, as any normal kid would when being made fun of, but most of the time he handles it well. He knows exactly why he is the way he is, he knows that he was burnt and how,” said Ngxumza.

As GroundUp spoke to Kukhanya, he buried his face in the couch, and only nodded when asked questions. Ngxumza said, he was just pretending to be shy. In fact, he could be a very naughty boy.

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TOPICS:  Society

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