File picture
Paarl - Police are looking for suspects in an apparent acid attack that took place in Paarl.

While the incident has left the man’s family shocked, this does not seem to be a trend in South Africa.

Earlier this month, Colin Hendricks’ brother-in-law's vehicle was rear-ended and on getting out to assess the damage he had sulphuric acid poured over his head.

Hendricks said after the accident his brother-in-law saw a man come out with a bag in his hand and then he poured acid over his brother-in-law's head. The family did not want the victim identified as the perpetrators are still at large.

“He has a lot of scarring on his head and he was in a lot of pain. He kept screaming that he wants to die. He said his wife and three kids were what kept him alive." He said the attack was a very personal one and they don’t understand what spurred it.

“You have to be a vindictive person to do something like this. It is not something you would just do, you must have a goal in mind or are just a bad person. It is a very personal attack. Why would you even have acid in your car?”

Hendricks said the assailant attempted to take his brother-in-law’s bakkie but was not able to start it.

Police said they were still to make arrests in the matter and a case of attempted murder and robbery had been opened.

Police spokesperson, Noloyiso Rwexana confirmed sulphuric acid was thrown over the 42-year-old’s head. “Information indicates that the victim was on his way home from the bank after he withdrew money for salaries.

"While driving in Van der Stel Street, a grey Opel Corsa motor vehicle bumped into the back of the victim's Ford Ranger. The victim stopped and got out of his vehicle.

"Three suspects then threw sulphuric acid in his face and robbed him of an undisclosed amount of money. The victim was taken to a nearby hospital.”

Rwexana said anyone with information must contact Crime Stop at 08600 10111 or the Paarl East Police Station at 0218775900.

Last year a Goodwood teenager was left badly injured after he was involved in what was believed to be an acid attack.

A Zimbabwean woman was also involved in an acid attack in Cape Town in 2011. At the time police said it may have been a case of mistaken identity. Adding that it was an unusual crime in the province.

The Institute for Security Studies said it does not keep statistics on acid attacks as it said it didn’t find it to be prevalent.

“There is no evidence to suggest that it is a big thing,” said ISS analyst, Lizette Lancaster.

According to a chemical engineer at Stellenbosch University, who asked not to be named, sulphuric acid reacts to surfaces by heating up and it is also corrosive. “It reacts to water and when it is put in water, it heats up the water. The skin contains a lot of water, so it will heat up.”

Cape Argus