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City to probe horror death

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City to probe horror death

by Laverne de Vries
01 Nov 2006
Peoples Post
Peoples Post

As the man's family expressed their anger at the media handling of his death, the City of Cape Town yesterday (Monday, 30 October) launched a formal investigation into the tragic death of one of its cleansing workers who died in a freak accident.

John Hendricks (43) was killed while on duty on Tuesday, 24 October, when he was accidentally crushed by the chopping blades of the refuse removal truck he was working on.

At the time of the accident, Hendricks was removing refuse in Lodewyk Street, Newfields.

According to friends and relatives, the events surrounding his death are still unclear.

His mother, Jean Hendricks, says there are conflicting reports.

"Some people say the driver didn't press the release button on the garbage compactor while others say John was scratching around looking for scrap or something valuable when he fell in and was caught in the blades. "Others say he slipped and fell in. We really don't know what happened."

The traumatised family report that none of his colleagues has approached them with answers because they are still in shock.

"The guys had to go for counselling and can't seem to talk about it."

The confusion surrounding his death as well as the media's handling of his death has angered the family.

His daughter, Laverne Hendricks (20), says she was outraged by a daily newspaper's report with the headline "Vullisman se kop ripped off in freak accident".

"Why couldn't they say 'cleansing worker' or 'solid waste worker'? He was our father and my mother's husband and he was a very respectable man," she says angrily.

Her uncle, Steven Mentor, echoes her views. "I was very angry when I saw that headline. They were insensitive to the family and focused entirely on his death. They got things wrong. They reported that he had been beheaded but his head was still intact. They also didn't approach us for comment."

Family friend Shane Boer also complained that Hendricks' body was not respected.

"He lay on the pavement for a few hours. I can understand that because he died on duty they wanted to take pictures for further investigation, but to let him lie there wasn't human. He lay there for so long his children even went to go and see his body."

Commenting on the situation, Jean Hendricks says the family has been coping well under the circumstances and has had the support of neighbours and friends.

"Bad things happen to good people all the time. This is just one of those things that form part of God's bigger plan."

Hendricks, who was Jean's only son, is survived by his wife and three children. The family says they will remember him as a loving father who always spared the rod and spoilt all his children.

"He was also a big soccer fan and we will miss his laughter the most," says Laverne.

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