Residents at funeral for boy killed by illegal electricity connection vow to fight for services

24 March 2020 - 07:00 By Mkhuseli Sizani for GroundUp
Classmates of Royden Plaatjies, who was nine years old when he was electrocuted by an illegal connection, pay their respects at his funeral at Soutpan Primary School, Port Elizabeth.
Classmates of Royden Plaatjies, who was nine years old when he was electrocuted by an illegal connection, pay their respects at his funeral at Soutpan Primary School, Port Elizabeth.
Image: Mkhuseli Sizani / GroundUp

About 200 mourners attended the funeral of Royden Plaatjies, who was electrocuted by an illegal connection two weeks ago. He was nine years old and was playing with a ball with his two brothers 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, heeding the national disaster call by President Cyril Ramaphosa as a precaution to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

GroundUp reported that mourners defied the call, angered 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.

Mourners said Royden was the fourth person to be electrocuted in the past five years.

Royden’s parents, Raldo Bell and Sharon Plaatjies, could not hold back their tears.

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”.

He said: "It is high time now, as communities, that we stand together for the safety of our children.”

Thembela Makabane, who took 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 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.”

Aritlce originally published by GroundUp


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