The boy Royden Plaatjies was killed after being electrocuted by an illegal connection two weeks ago. He was nine years old and was playing with a ball with his two siblings near his home in Riemvasmaak informal settlement, Bethelsdorp, Port Elizabeth.
The funeral was held at Soutpan Primary School in Arcadia on Saturday. The family had prepared for 50 mourners, following the national disaster call by President Cyril Ramaphosa taking safety measures to avoid spreading the Coronavirus.
GroundUp reported that the grieving family defied the call, livid by the conditions under which they are living in Riemvasmaak. The settlement has 500 households with only four working communal water taps, a bucket system for toilets, no formal electrification and no rubbish collection. Pupils have to cross the Chatty River to get to school.
Royden was the fourth person to be killed by electricity in the past five years, the mourners angrily stated.
Royden’s parents, Raldo Bell and Sharon Plaatjies could not stop weeping so badly, it was clear enough that they were too broken.
Soutpan Primary principal, Julian Erasmus, said although everyone was “panicking about the coronavirus that has just arrived in our country, there are many children who died, like Royden, because there were no precautions taken for their safety”.
“It is high time now, as communities, that we stand together for the safety of our children,” he added.
Thembela Makabane, who rushed Royden to hospital in her car, said: “Royden died in my hands. He died a painful death because of our negligent municipal officials, including our ward councillor, Not a single official attended his funeral.”
“Royden must not die in vain. We will go back to the streets and burn tyres.”
Community leader Lynodia Douglas said: “On Monday evening we are meeting our neighbours in the Kliprand informal settlement, who have the same problems. We want to join forces and fight for a better life. Enough is enough.”
Ward 34 councillor Johny Arends (DA) said: “I couldn’t attend the funeral because I am a deacon at Bethelsdorp Congregational Church. Our reverend had called us to discuss the precautionary measures against the coronavirus. Before and after the funeral I visited the family to express my condolences.”