'He was everything to me' - mom of talented son shot dead in Hout Bay

By Drum Digital
25 July 2017

He died on Monday afternoon in hospital.

Cape Town - On Saturday, 19-year-old University of the Western Cape student and talented musician Siyamthanda “Siya” Betana was shot dead as violent protests erupted in Imizamo Yethu, Hout Bay, over service delivery.

Two days later, his father Thabiso Betana, who was the first family member to hear the news of the teenager’s death, collapsed, possibly as a result of the strain of hearing of his son's death.

He died on Monday afternoon in hospital.

"He couldn't take his son's loss," Betana's distraught mother Agnes told News24 on Tuesday.

Agnes was herself admitted to hospital on Monday after the shocks of first seeing her son’s body in the mortuary and then hearing of her husband's death.

She has since been discharged.

'He was very bright'

Betana was a student at the University of the Western Cape (UWC), studying towards a BSc in genetic engineering.

He attended Wynberg High School, where he excelled academically.

"I will always miss my son. I will always miss his respect and his humbleness," said his mother on Tuesday. "He was everything to me."

Agnes said he excelled academically and was respected by fellow pupils and peers.

"At school he was a prefect and head of music. He always got high marks. He was brilliant. He was studying chemistry at the University of the Western Cape," she said.

Community work

For about a decade, Betana had also been involved with the Hout Bay Music Project, a community organisation that helps children from disadvantaged communities come together to learn and experience the joy of music.

The project's director Leanne Dollman described Betana as an exceptional young man.

"He was probably a 10-year-old when I met him. When he came to the music project, he was quite tall, so we thought that he was going to play the cello. Two months after that he decided he wanted to play the violin."

Betana later took up the double bass, and played the saxophone at school.

"He was very bright. He could do anything. This is shown by what he chose to study [at university]," she said.

Dollman said Betana was helpful and outgoing, with an excellent memory.

"When he was just 10, he was showing one of our German volunteers how to get around Cape Town. He was showing him all sorts of tourist destinations on a map, which was unusual for a 10-year-old."

Musical influence in community

Betana was interested in all genres of music.

"He wanted to play in the school band. They had more going on with brass and wind instruments, so he just took up the sax."

He also worked as a respected and active trainee teacher at the music project, and was particularly involved in teaching music theory.

She said he also helped organise the project's Life Skills series of talks.

"He has been a leader at the project among the students for the last two or three years. Music theory came very naturally to him, and he was trying to encourage the other children to do theory."

The circumstances surrounding Betana’s shooting are unclear. He was found dead with a gunshot wound to the chest on Saturday morning, following a tense night of protests in Imizamo Yethu.


The situation in the informal settlement had already been tense, following weeks of on and off protests over housing, evictions and the poor standard of municipal services.

On the same night that Betana was shot, the ANC’s Parliamentary outreach office in the area, a community hall, the houses of community leaders and the stalls of Somali traders were set alight.

Police are investigating the shooting, and no arrests have yet been made.

Betana will be remembered at two upcoming memorial services, one in Hout Bay and the other at his Wynberg High School. The dates are still being scheduled.

*Siya Betana's family has appealed for help to organise two funerals. Anyone wanting to help with a donation can send an email to his sister at zimasa7dyani@gmail.com


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