Father is still haunted by son’s sudden death 15 years later

2019-04-05 12:51
Charles Wentley and family. (Photo: Martin de Kock)

Charles Wentley and family. (Photo: Martin de Kock)

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“The pain just isn’t healing,” Charles Wentley tells us. “We’re living – if I can call it that – in a deep, dark hole and we’re struggling to move on with our lives.”

It’s been nearly 15 years since Renaldo Wentley was injured at an Eskom substation. The 14-year-old later died in hospital from sepsis.

“We’ve lost everything, basically. We’re living in a house we’re renting from people. I’ve lost my job and I’m living day to day,” Charles says.

He recalls every painful detail from that day when Renaldo got into a substation and became entangled in electrical cables. Charles, his wife, Veronica, and their daughter, Cindy, refer to this as “The Accident” – in capital letters.

The clothes Renaldo was wearing were almost all burnt from his body and he was found lying near the substation in just his underwear, burnt and exposed.

“Daddy, I’m sorry,” Renaldo kept telling his dad over and over, with terror in his eyes.

Renaldo and his friends had been playing golf behind their home in Blue Downs, a suburb in Cape Town, when one of their balls landed in the substation. There was an opening under the gate and Renaldo wriggled through to get the ball.

He was shocked by about 134 000 volts of electricity – about 600 times as much as in the average plug point in a residential home. It’s almost a miracle he survived – usually being shocked in this way would be fatal. Instead, he spent weeks in unbearable pain in a hospital bed.

“We don’t have medical aid anymore, so we can’t afford psychiatrists,” Charles says. “And public institutions make it hard to get to the right person.”

Eskom refused to comment, saying it wouldn’t respond as the civil claim was yet to be settled in court.

Read more on:    death  |  eskom  |  father
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