Cape Town - Chauncey Davids was a curious schoolboy who loved doing experiments. But, on Thursday, a test using a plastic container, a bottle of Brut deodorant and a cigarette lighter went horribly wrong for the 14-year-old, who died in an explosion at his Westridge home on Thursday.
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, told the Cape Argus on Thursday that Chauncey wanted to show it to her.
It is thought to be similar to the “woomf bottle” experiment in which gas or alcohol is poured into a bottle and lit, causing a woomf of flame.
She suspected that he may have seen other pupils do it and wanted to try it himself.
“I told him to put the deodorant down and that he couldn’t use a lighter.
“He later asked his father when he returned from work and both of us said no.”
Davids said Chauncey asked her again on Thursday, when the school was closed for Ascension Day, and again she refused.
“His dad told him to clean the garden. Before I went upstairs I saw him in the front yard and I asked my daughter to close the door.”
Minutes later she heard an odd noise.
“I was upstairs when I heard popping sounds as the windows of the spare room in the back yard shattered. In my mind he was still in the front yard. I thought maybe there had been a short circuit that caused the fire.”
Davids said she ran outside and reached for the hose to extinguish the flames.
“I was opening the tap when I thought that he could help me, so I went to the front yard and called his name over and over.
“An 18-year-old neighbour ran to the back yard to try to help with the fire. When he quickly returned I could see on his face that it was Chauncey.
“Until that moment I never thought that it could be him.”
Davids added that Chauncey’s 10-year-old sister was angry because she told him not to take the lighter.
Teachers, neighbours and family poured into the Davids home in Cypress Way on Thursday night to pay their respects.
Jeannette Bailey, his former teacher at Harvester Primary school, said that Chauncey was a bright student.
“He was a good student and also very curious, trying new experiments all the time.”
Provincial education ministry spokeswoman Bronagh Casey said the Western Cape Education Department was investigating the matter. Once details of the pupil and school had been confirmed, counselling would be provided to classmates.
“We would like to convey our condolences to the family and friends.”
Police spokesman Captain FC van Wyk said an inquest docket had been opened and that no foul play was suspected.