16/10/2008 22:53 - (SA)
Susan Cilliers, Beeld
Johannesburg - He had always been the heart and soul of a party, but now Clint Kerr, 44, from Johannesburg is blind and deaf and his family is desperate to get him to communicate again.
"He wants to know why we won't talk to him. He really doesn't seem to realise that he has become deaf and blind," his son Darren said on Thursday.
After robbers tortured Clint at his house in Glenvista in March and hit him on the head with a hammer, he contracted meningitis and lost his sight and hearing.
"He asks us all the time to speak up or to turn on the lights," said his ex-wife, Sandy.
His fiancée, Andrea Hatton-Jones, is now taking care of him, but is said to be severely traumatised and has stopped answering her phone. Beeld could not reach her for comment on Thursday.
Protecting his dignity
Darren does not want his father to be photographed in his current state to "protect his dignity". Whereas Clint had initially allowed people to spell letters on his hands, he has now become aggressive and impatient and sometimes slaps his family in frustration.
"He used to be a dynamic businessman, but his building business had to close down.
"All his employees lost their jobs. He does have a medical aid, but it's nearly exhausted," Sandy said in despair.
Her former husband also became diabetic after the attack, presumably as a result of shock.
Anton Pienaar, chairperson of Deafblind SA's Gauteng branch, said Clint needed specialised care to teach him to communicate again.
At the Institute for the Blind in Worcester blind and deaf adults can be taught Braille, but then they need to live at the Institute permanently for quite a long time, said Freddie Botha of the Institute.
'He doesn't understand'
"If they come for a shorter period, they will only get basic mobility training, for example to walk with a white cane."
Pienaar thinks the simplest solution at this stage would be to teach Clint finger-spelling - where letters are spelled out on his hand.
"But how are you going to get him to understand that you are spelling an A on his hand, for example? I have given him large plastic letters, but he doesn't understand what they are."
Dr Duane Mol, Kerr's doctor and a surgeon at the Union Hospital in Alberton, does cochlear implants. He said Clint could benefit from such an implant, but he first had to understand and accept that he had become deaf and blind.
People who would like to give advice may call Pienaar at 083 596 2119 or 011 907 5418.