Thandeka Moyo-Ndlovu, Chronicle Reporter
A PART four Journalism student at the National University of Science and Technology (Nust) was hospitalised after her cellphone exploded in her handbag, leaving her unconscious.
The university yesterday confirmed that Miss Khanyile Sithole was rushed to the United Bulawayo Hospitals after she collapsed following the blast in a lecture room on Monday.
Investigations are still underway to establish what could have caused the explosion although experts say mobile phones with faulty batteries or charging systems can explode spontaneously.
Efforts to get comment from Miss Sithole were fruitless but her classmates said the explosion startled most of them into seeking cover.
“We were all seated waiting for our lecturer to arrive when we heard a loud pop. I thought the building was disintegrating. For a moment I thought maybe all the widows had been shattered, only to see smoke coming out of Khanyile’s handbag,” said one of her classmates.
“Khanyile was apparently more shocked than the rest of us. She shot out of her chair and immediately collapsed. When the dust had settled and we felt we were out of danger, some classmates took her to the campus clinic where nurses referred her to UBH for treatment. We are still in shock but we are happy that no one got injured during the incident,” said a student on condition of anonymity.
Experts say phone explosions can be caused by defects in manufacturing and usually it is batteries that lead to that.
“The common cause of battery explosion is when it is over-charged. In a cell phone’s battery system, there are separators that prevent two electrodes from connecting with each other. When the separators don’t work properly, it is more likely that these two electrodes will touch one another, and this will cause explosions,” reads a statement from an online electronic company.
Contacted for comment, Nust director for marketing and communications Mr Thabani Mpofu said Miss Sithole was stable.
“A part four student had an unfortunate incident after her phone exploded in her handbag which had a bottle of perfume. There was panic among students and she also suffered shock,” said Mr Mpofu.
“She was taken to UBH for treatment but we are happy to report that she has recovered as she had collapsed following the incident. She did not suffer any injury or burns just that her handbag was burnt after the explosion,” he said.
Mr Mpofu said Nust clinic nurses resuscitated Miss Sithole and referred her to UBH for further assessment.
“My comment would be to urge students to avoid carrying perfumes in the handbags together with cell phones as we suspect that may have caused the explosion. Sometimes when there are special occasions here at Nust like the graduation ceremony we ask students and parents not to bring perfumes as a combination of these may lead to an explosion,” said Mr Mpofu.
He however, said the institution was still to ascertain the exact cause of the explosion. [email protected]