Child-grant delay sends mom over edge

Elisha Molefe

A 21-year-old woman from Itsoseng Township, near Lichtenburg in North West, is in a serious condition in hospital after she torched herself because the government has not processed her application for a child-support grant.

Leah Tembo, 21, of Zone 1 Itsoseng, reportedly drank paraffin and then doused her body, her baby and her house with it before setting herself alight.

Her boyfriend, Nkuleleko Silo, 28, said that he had gone to buy cigarettes. When he returned he saw his girlfriend setting fire to herself with matches.

A neighbour who saw the tragedysaid: "I was sitting outside when I saw Silo dragging Leah out of their house.

"She was a ball of flames. Silo dragged Leah to a tap and poured water over her.

"Inside the house we found the child soaked in paraffin. It is a miracle the child wasn't on fire because the house was on fire. We carried the child out," she said.

In his statement to the police, Silo said his girlfriend was angry because the Department of Social Services and Development in Itsoseng was dragging its feet in processing her application for a child-support grant.

Tembo was taken to Thusong Hospital and admitted to the intensive care unit, said an Itsoseng police spokesman, Lebogang Mokgothu.

"There might have been a break down in communication between the department and the applicant," said Smanga Selemi, a spokesman for the Department of Social Development in North West.

"Sometimes applicants omit information and that prolongs the process," he said.