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Rehab death shrouded in mystery

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Rehab death shrouded in mystery

by Tanya Petersen
10 Oct 2007
Peoples Post
Peoples Post

The death of a Manenberg youth after visiting a local rehabilitation centre in Grassy Park has left many unnerved and confused as to the cause of his passing.

Tragedy struck in the early morning hours of Sunday, 7 October after 19-year-old Siraaj Charles had been complaining about a "ticklish feeling" in his head.

Charles' parents booked him into the Circle of Friends rehabilitation centre in Klip Road a week prior to his passing, but on Friday, 5 October, he fled from the centre.

"He was with us a while ago for using tik. His mother called us to inform us that he was once again using and she wanted us to collect him," explains Armien Williams, house father at the centre.

"We collected him up at his house, but on Friday he ran away when we went to mosque."

He explains that they contacted his mother to inform her that her son had escaped and that if he returned to his home, she had to phone them. The very same day he ran away, he returned to his mother's house. She contacted the rehabilitation centre to collect him, which they say they did.

"After we fetched him at his mom's house, he complained that his head felt funny. He also admitted that he used tik and said to me, 'You don't understand the craving'."

Williams says Charles kept asking for medication because he was battling to handle the feeling in his head, which he explained as a "krieweling" (prickly).

"I told him that we cannot give him medication, but instead I gave him some sugar water and then he slept." According to Williams, that Saturday evening Charles was still sleeping. "I tried to wake him up, but he wouldn't move."

He says that later the evening he still had not woken up. "I felt his feet and neck and they were very cold."

At about 01:45 on Sunday morning they rushed him to Victoria Hospital, but he died outside the hospital.

"We do not know what the cause of death was. I just do not understand."

It has been alleged by a number of sources that assault was the cause of his death, but Williams denies this, claiming that they do not hit the boys.

"We used to hit the boys, but we do not any more. We only do it if the parents give us permission to do so. We punish them by giving them 20 lashes under their feet."

However, he says that in this case Charles was not beaten at all.

The Grassy Park police say an inquest docket has been opened and Charles' father has not laid any charges of assault. It has also been reported that there were bruises on his legs.

However, the police say that only once the post mortem has been completed, which can take about six to eight months, can the cause of death be determined.

Yassien Charles, the boy's father, was still deeply shocked by son's death yesterday.

"I don't feel well; I don't want to talk about this," he said.

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