A young Cape Town mother is on life support in hospital after she was doused with petrol and set alight, allegedly by her ex-husband in front of their two-year-old son.
Ragmat Francis, 28, was rushed to Groote Schuur Hospital last week.
The mom of five was in a coma for four days after her lungs and heart were affected in the attack. She also suffered third degree burns to her body.
On Tuesday, her desperate mother, Hajira Mashonga, 48, contacted the Daily Voice to say the suspect “was walking in and out” of their home in Heideveld.
Hajira said the attack happened on March 1 at their home, a week after Ragmat’s husband divorced her.
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A tenant, 40, who witnessed the attack and rushed Ragmat to hospital, said she had been doused with a bottle of petrol which she had used the day before to burn copper.
“Ragmat and her ex-husband were having a tiff and I don’t know what it was about,” said the woman.
“He was in and out of the house and I told him he must leave and calm down.
“I watched Ragmat carrying her two-year-old son from the kitchen to the lounge where she fetched a bottle of petrol and the ex followed her.
“She used the petrol the day before to burn copper for money to feed her children.”
The woman says the man came to her room and asked for a lighter and she refused.
“I thought in my mind ‘how can I give you a lighter when there is petrol’, and told him I do not have one.”
“The next moment he was scratching around in the lounge and found a lighter.
“I heard that sound you hear when something is set alight.
“I ran to the kitchen and saw that Ragmat was burning, as well as the curtains. She was screaming for help while trying to kill the fire with her hands.
“He wanted to throw water on her, but I fetched a towel telling her she must roll on the ground,” she said.
Hajira says her daughter is on life support and is praying police will arrest her attacker.
“The doctor said she cannot breathe on her own, that the machines are keeping her alive,” she said.
“Her attacker came here after the incident and I asked him how he felt when he set her alight, he said he didn’t mean to, that he loved her. I said ‘that isn’t love’.”
The Daily Voice team was shown the lighter allegedly used, and Ragmat’s burnt clothing.
During the interview, her ex arrived, but ran away as soon as he spotted reporters.
Hajira says according to doctors, they could only call the police once Ragmat could say what happened.
The Daily Voice on Tuesday called SAPS who promised to send officers.
“If the family doesn’t inform the police, we can’t open a case. We will be sending a van,” said Captain Ian Bennett of the Manenberg Police Station.