Classmates’ tearful farewell for fire victim

Classmates of Arafat Madatt, 14, who died in a blaze that killed eight people in Eastridge, cry during a memorial service at Seaview Primary School in Rocklands.

Seaview Primary School pupils in Rocklands were in tears during a memorial service at the school for their schoolmate, Arafat Madatt, 14, one of eight people who died in a fire in Eastridge.

Arafat was buried according to Muslim rites a day after the fire at his family’s Macbeth Street home on Saturday June 11 (“Eight die in Eastridge blaze,” Plainsman, June 15). The rest of the fire victims will be buried this weekend.

Speaking at the memorial service, Seaview Primary principal Erfaan Dollie, said the occasion was also a celebration of Arafat’s life.

He said thatoften in such tragedies it was the younger ones who were affected the most. “His schoolmates are traumatised by the tragedy,” Mr Dollie said.

Arafat’s class teacher Victor Wood, described him as a quiet pupil. He said he had cried when he heard the news of Arafat’s death.

“It’s the first time I lose a pupil like this. When I heard the news, I cried in class because I took him as part of my family.

“I didn’t know his real parents because he was staying with his aunt.”

Sheik Darul Dawood, principal of Darul Arqam Islamic High School in Eastridge, witnessed the blaze.

“I saw the flames, the ambulance and police were also there. Neighbours came out still in pyjamas to help stop the fire.

“Someone tried to break open the gate with a five-pound hammer. These images I’ll never forget for the rest of my life.

“It used to be that children bury their parents, but now it’s the other way around,” said Sheikh Dawood.

He urged the community to stand together. “This is a difficult time for the community, teachers and pupils. May Arafat’s soul be granted a place in paradise,” he said.

Arafat’s classmate, Yamkela Tangana, 11, described him as lovable person who liked to share jokes and art.

“He liked to play and he was so creative with his drawings. I liked his drawings,” she said.

Jade Brown, 11, said he felt empty without him. “I’m so sad. He was my best friend. I’ll miss his jokes and laughter.”

Pastor Neval Hill of Love Ministries urged those who wanted to make donations to the family to do so directly. His appeal comes after reports of people masquerading on social media as family representatives, asking for cash donations.

Arafat’s family members who perished in the fire are Tamia Swartz, 2, Nikita Abrahams, 3, Elmarie Fredericks, 5, Cameron Fredericks ,6, Joshua Abrahams, 13, Kyle Abrahams, 18, and Alfonzo Swartz, 35.