‘Thank you, Jesus, for giving us Melvin’

2011-11-19 16:50

Tears flowed in the Grade 4B class of Pellsrus Primary School on Friday afternoon as children stared at the vacant desk of their friend, Melvin Nyalela (9).

A lone candle burned next to a photo of him, along with flowers and letters written to him by his friends during the course of the week. “Thank you, Jesus, for having given us Melvin as a friend,” was just one of the prayers.

Nyalela died on the school grounds in Jeffreys Bay on Monday after apparently suffering a heart attack. He weighed between 105kg and 120kg.

“He was my best friend. I remember the last thing he said to me was that he couldn’t breathe properly. We often played Playstation, and Melvin always won,” Inganathi Balangile remembers.

One of the teachers, Jannet Dennis, described him as a “pleasant boy”.

“It’s like having a dream and you can’t get the picture out of your mind. We were changing classes and Melvin was standing on the stoep with me. He pressed on his chest, leaned against the wall and said: ‘Miss, I can’t get my breath.’

“The next moment he just fell down. I knew it was the end.” Dennis says that she went to fetch Melvin’s mother, Hilda, at her home.

“It was the normal thing for us to take Melvin to his mother if he didn’t feel well. He had a sleeping sickness, and we had already been to the doctor with him.”

Back at the school, some of the staff carried him to the sick bay, where there were medical staff. “The principal immediately adjourned school. We couldn’t let all the children stand there looking at him while he was lying like that,” Dennis says.

She said she realised in September when he was writing exams that Melvin sometimes just fell asleep with his pen in his hand.

“With the permission of the principal, Ronald Plaatjies, I went and spoke to his mother. I had to explain to her we had confidence in the way she was bringing up her son, but that it was also necessary for him to go to a doctor so that we could see if we couldn’t help him to lose weight. Melvin even fell asleep in the doctor’s waiting room.”

The paediatrician recommended that the boy go to hospital, but his mother would not give her permission.  “Melvin’s father died a year ago. He went into hospital and they never saw him again. So you can understand why Hilda didn’t want her son to go,” Dennis says.

“In the past two weeks, he was a happy and enthusiastic child. And he was clever. Just yesterday we looked at his exam paper from Monday. He got 17 out of 20 for maths.”

Plaatjies confirmed that a trauma counsellor had helped the children come to terms with the loss. “Melvin worked hard. He did well at school.”

At the family business, Nyalela’s Tavern, the boy’s mother just sat on a mattress with a blanket around her shoulders, staring in front of her. “I feel too sick to say anything. I am too heartbroken,” she said.

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
/Sport

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
Traffic
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.