Durban - Doctors are still assessing if the two Phoenix children, who were rescued from their blazing home last week require skin grafts.
Last week, the Daily News reported that Ralph Kannemeyer had stormed into his neighbour’s burning house twice, rescuing the Brijmohun siblings – Riadlen, 5, and his sister Riley, 4 – from almost certain death.
The children were taken to Mahatma Gandhi Memorial Hospital where they are still being treated in the burn unit.
Speaking at the hospital on Monday, their worried parents, Ryan, 29, and Saleha Brijmohun, 28, said the children had been stabilised and their condition was improving.
The specialist doctor treating them said they did not have second-degree burns as first feared, but superficial burns.
“After evaluation and cleaning the wounds, the doctor has given us the encouraging news. Their top layer of skin has been damaged, but there is a lot of swelling on their faces and the sensitive parts of their bodies,” Saleha said.
“We have been feeding them soft foods and liquid. Ryan’s family and mine have been taking turns to comfort them and assist the nurses with their care.”
Riadlen was in a worse condition than his sister and was unable to speak because of swelling on his mouth. Riley had been more responsive and had been talking about wanting to go home and play.
“Riadlen has burns throughout his body including the legs, part of his chest and his head. The swelling around the front of the face is making it hard for him to speak,” Saleha said. “Riley’s head, face, back and arms are burnt. She has been talking about wanting to play on a jumping castle and wanting a party pack.
“At this stage there is no decision by the doctor as to whether they may require skin grafting, which would mean transferring them to Albert Luthuli (hospital),” the anxious mother said.
Meanwhile, representatives of the Dahrul Ihsan Centre, a non-profit welfare group, had gone to the house to see the damage and how they could help the family.
The group’s spokesman, Maulana Ahmed Kathrada, said plans were under way to refurbish the house, which was gutted by fire last Wednesday night. It is believed the fire started when a candle fell into a plastic bin bag.
“We already have a builder on standby with all the materials required to start refurbishing the house,” Kathrada said.
“We cannot start until the police have completed their investigations, which we expect to be done during the course of the week.”
He expressed concern that the children’s grandmother, Shreen Jemuel, was in arrears on her electricity and water account for the house.
“The house didn’t have any water, lights and electricity prior to the fire.
“There is approximately R18 000 which needs to be paid to settle the arrears,” Kathrada said.
“We are going to try and assist in this regard as well as it won’t be ideal for them to be moved in without any electricity and water in the house.”
Jemuel, 57, who lost all her possessions in the fire, has since been living with her children at her sister’s house. She welcomed the gestures of support from charity organisations and the public.
“We want to thank everyone for helping us during these difficult times. Our main concern is the children and we are making a lot of duaa (prayer) (so that) they recover fully,” she said.
“The Red Cross has brought in blankets and we have received a grocery voucher from the social security agency. It would be really good if the Dahrul Ihsan could have the house ready for Eid,” Jemuel said.
l It has emerged that Wednesday’s dramatic rescue was not the first time Kannemeyer, 44, had come to the aid of children in danger.
Pastor Niven Lalmund of the Revival and Restoration Ministries Church, who was also assisting the family with food and groceries, said Kannemeyer last year came to the aid of his 11-year-old daughter and 5-year-old son, driving 2km to his house to kill a 1.5-metre snake that had scared them.