One of the two British victims of a horrific acid attack in Zanzibar has revealed she has been banned by doctors from sitting in the sun for the next year after undergoing a skin graft on her arm, back and shoulder.
Kirstie Trup, who praised the London surgeon who treated her, said it was “a small price to pay, even though I once obsessed about sunbathing”. She will also have to wear a pressure garment “which looks like a short-sleeved Lycra T-shirt” to prevent scar tissue building up.
The 18-year-old was volunteering as an English teacher on the African island, which is part of Tanzania, with her friend, Katie Gee, last month, when a man on the back of a moped doused them with acid in an apparently random and unprovoked attack. The local police have yet to arrest anyone.
Writing in The Sunday Times, Kirstie hit out at “baseless rumours” that the attackers targeted them because they turned downed the men’s sexual advances.
“Rubbish. We had never seen those men before,” she said.
Her account of the attacks offers the most disturbing insight yet into the girls’ ordeal. She described two men on a silver moped stalking them before chucking the jerrycan full of acid at them, saying: “We yelled, almost in unison: ‘What the fuck?’ And within a second of the moped speeding off… we began screaming.”
She added: “We felt our flesh being seared. Our screams were so loud they could be heard by revellers at the Africa House hotel, which was several minutes’ walk away from us. My entire upper body was burning, especially my right shoulder and torso. So were my feet, my face and my eyes. The skin on my right forearm looked as though it had had red paint thrown at it and I immediately noticed some discolouration on my torso and shoulder.”
Laying in a hospital bed in Tanzania immediately after attack, Kirstie “thought about Katie Piper, the former model and television presenter who had had sulphuric acid thrown in her face on the orders of her ex-boyfriend and the impact that had on her life.
“I was terrified and still in pain, crying, wishing I was back home … with Mum and Dad, my two brothers and our two dogs”.
Kirstie also described how Jakaya Kikwete, Tanzania’s president, ordered photographers out of the hospital room after the girls hid beneath bed sheets to avoid being photographed. “Surrounded by his entourage … he asked Katie and I how we were feeling. ‘We are very sorry,’ he said. ‘We are going to catch the people who did this.’ Within five minutes he was gone.”
She said that she sees Katie Gee, who is still being treated at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, three times a week when she returns for check-ups.