‘Missing metal’ claim after schoolboy dies

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Copy of ca p3 explosion done (42274246) CAPE ARGUS Chauncey Davidss parents, Beverley and Llewellyn, look at the outside room that was gutted in the blast that killed their son. Picture: Jason Boud

Cape Town - The Community Policing Forum (CPF) in Mitchells Plain have asked police to investigate claims by a classmate of Chauncey Davids, the Grade 9 boy who died in an explosion at his home in Westridge on Thursday, that magnesium went missing from their chemistry class on Tuesday.

CPF chairman Michael Jacobs confirmed that he had informed police about the allegations, and was told that they would make an inquiry at Mondale High School.

Jacobs said he was approached by concerned parents whose child had told them about children playing with magnesium in class on Tuesday. Pupils spat on the magnesium and watched it “explode”. Magnesium is a highly flammable metal which is easy to ignite when powdered or thinly shaved but it is difficult to ignite in mass or bulk. Once ignited, it is difficult to extinguish.

After the “game” in class, a small amount of the element went missing, but the teacher could apparently not find the culprit and discharged the class.

On Friday morning the Western Cape Education Department said school management had denied the claim.

“We have checked with the principal, and no such incident was reported,” said Bronagh Casey, spokeswoman for the department. “The school’s stocks were audited, and nothing is missing.”

Police could not confirm that the CPF had passed on the information or that an inquiry was under way.

Chauncey died after an experiment apparently using a plastic container, a bottle of Brut deodorant and a cigarette lighter went horribly wrong for the 14-year-old.

The Grade 9 pupil at Mondale High School in Mitchells Plain returned home from school on Wednesday excited about an experiment he had seen at school. His mom, Beverley Davids, said on Thursday that Chauncey wanted to show it to her.

She suspected that he may have seen other pupils do it and wanted to try it himself. “I told him ... he couldn’t use a lighter. His father told him the same thing.”

But on Thursday when he had been told to clean the garden he went instead into a room behind the house.

Minutes later his mother heard an odd noise.

“I was upstairs when I heard popping sounds as the windows of the spare room in the back yard shattered. “

Teachers, neighbours and family poured into the Davids home in Cypress Way on Thursday night.

Police spokesman Captain FC van Wyk said an inquest docket had been opened and that no foul play was suspected.

Cape Argus

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