Pupils counselled after schoolboy chokes to death

2011-02-11 00:00

TEACHERS at a Pietermaritzburg private school counselled distraught pupils after a 14-year-old classmate tragically choked to death on Tuesday afternoon.

Dennis Addo, a Grade 8 pupil at Maritzburg Christian School in Pelham, collapsed on his way back from a local shop with his brother after school at about 2 pm.

Help was summoned, but his father, environmentalist Patrick Addo (49), said the boy died 30 minutes after he arrived at hospital.

His class teacher Raymond Mitchell, said Dennis’s 22 classmates were shocked at hearing the news.

“On Wednesday morning we worshipped and prayed, and teachers spent about two hours talking to Grade 8 pupils to help them accept what happened,” said Mitchell.

Addo said the incident left his family with “an empty space”.

“It happened after school two hours after he had eaten his food. Doctors said the food got into the wrong space.

“My son was very close to me. He was always in touch with me. Whenever I was away he would call to find out if I was okay,” he said.

Addo, who runs an environmental consultancy, was at work when he received the tragic news.

“When I got to the hospital I saw him being rushed to a room, and we waited outside.

About 30 minutes later a doctor told us that he did not make it,” said Addo, who is now left with four children.

School principal Eugene Burger said Dennis, a cricket player, was known “for his big heart” and “openness”.

“He worked very hard [in his classwork]. He was always full of smiles and a very happy boy.

“He was also very proud of his school,” said Burger.

Dennis’s classmates also expressed their condolences.

“I didn’t know Dennis well, but every time I saw him he had a smile on his face.

“Dennis always brought joy to his class and friends. Dennis was a good example to everyone,” said Caitlyn Caswell.

Sindiswa Mkhize said: “He was a person who stood up for his friends, [and] who helped whenever he could.”

Sibusisiwe Ngobese said: “A person that never gave up on anything he did.

“The one thing I liked about him was he respected everyone.”

Addo said a night vigil will be held at the family’s home at 30 Thornhurst Drive from 7 pm today.

He said the funeral service will be held at the Gathering of Believers church at the corner of Washington and Emily roads at 9 am tomorrow.

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