In Trinidad and Tobago news, A 12-year-old schoolboy is warded at San Fernando General Hospital (SFGH) nursing serious burns after he caught fire when an obeah ritual to get him good results in the Secondary Entrance Assessment (SEA) exam went awry last Wednesday.

Police are investigating the case to bring charges of practising obeah and grievous bodily harm against two men, one a relative of the boy.

Picture by: Roger Hutchings / Alamy

Picture by: Roger Hutchings / Alamy

Investigators report the boy, of Morvant, was taken by his relative to the home of a “spiritualist” in San Juan at about 11 pm, last Wednesday, the day before the release of the SEA results.

The relative told the boy to remove his clothing and special oils were pasted about his body for a “spiritual bath” to influence the outcome of what school he passed for.

The boy was ordered to stand over lit camphor as chants were recited by the spiritualist. He became frightened and attempted to run away but was cornered by his relative who took him back to the room where the ritual continued.

As the boy followed the instructions of the spiritualist and stood over the burning camphor his body became enveloped in flames causing him to scream out.

As the boy became a human torch, his relative doused him with water while the spiritualist prepared a home remedy to treat the child for burns about his face, chest, arms and legs.

Newsday understands that when the boy complained of excruciating pain the next day he was rushed to the Port-of-Spain General Hospital and then transferred to the Eric Williams Medical Sciences Complex, Mt Hope.

However the plastic surgeon responsible for dealing with burns is out of the country and a decision was taken to have the boy transferred to the Burns Unit of the SFGH.

When Newsday visited the Burns Unit on Monday, a male relative refused to say anything about the incident and instructed that only a few relatives be allowed to meet with the victim.

Health gov tt - Ho San Fernando General Hospital

San Fernando General Hospital. Photo courtesy

However, sources at the SFGH revealed the boy suffered burns over 25 percent of his body and is recuperating slowly.

Sources also added the boy is alert and has been eating and communicating well with medical personnel and other patients.

Although the boy was unable to attend school last Thursday to receive his results, Newsday understands he did pass for one of the schools of his choice, Tranquillity Government Secondary.

The case is being investigated by officers of the Morvant Police Station who have described the incident as bizarre.

A senior officer said yesterday they will be seeking advice from the legal department of the TT Police Service on how to proceed in the probe, a charge of causing grievous bodily harm could be laid against the boy’s relative and the spiritualist.

The police also noted that practising obeah is an offence which they are also looking at.

Under the Summary Offences Act Chapter 11:02 it is against the law to practise obeah, which is punishable by a fine. Under Section 12 of the Offences Against the Person Act Chapter 11:08 the penalty for causing grievous bodily harm could be as much ten to 15 years’ imprisonment.

However, on the discretion of the magistrate a fine could be imposed or the person could be placed on a bond. Efforts to reach Minister of Gender, Youth and Child Development, Marlene Coudray proved futile, as calls to her cellphone went unanswered.

By Nalinee Seelal, Trinidad and Tobago Newsday.

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