- Much-loved history teacher Randall Solomons had taught at Macassar High School in Cape Town, his alma mater, for 25 years.
- He succumbed to Covid-19 and was buried two days before the schools reopened in the Western Cape.
- His mother, Emmarentia Dampies, 78, says she is struggling with closure.
Teacher Randall Solomons lived for his pupils, meticulously sending classwork as the coronavirus kept them away from school. He also assisted with the feeding scheme, so that the children didn't go hungry.
But he will never return to the job he had wanted to do since he was a little boy. He succumbed to Covid-19 and was buried two days before the schools reopened in the Western Cape.
His mother, Emmarentia Dampies, 78, told News24 she is struggling to come to terms with burying her son.
"I can't get closure. I couldn't see him and say goodbye," she said.
"He was alone when he died, with no one at his side."
The award-winning teacher, who taught at Macassar High School, about 40km outside the Cape Town city centre, died two weeks ago.
Dampies learnt that he had taken ill five days before he succumbed to the virus.
That Friday, Solomons had told his concerned mother over the phone that he had the flu, but had been referred to hospital and was awaiting his results after being tested for Covid-19.
That Sunday, he was transported by ambulance to hospital after taking a turn for the worse. His results were confirmed – he was one of the thousands in the Western Cape infected with the virus.
Dampies said she had phoned the father of two numerous times to hear how he was, but was unable to reach him. His son had also spent the day at the hospital, hoping for news about his father's condition.
Eventually Dampies got to hear Solomons' voice the Tuesday when she was put through to the intensive care unit, where she learnt her active and fit son was on "the strongest machines".
"They gave him the phone and he told me he was feeling better. He said we would speak on Wednesday, but we never did. He died that Wednesday."
She misses her funny and outgoing son, Dampies said, especially his random phone calls in the middle of the night.
"When I would ask him why he was phoning so late, he would ask, 'Can't I then phone my mother if I want to?'. It feels like I can still hear that phone ring at night."
Solomons had always wanted to be a teacher, she said, and had during the lockdown sent his pupils classwork, so that they didn't fall behind. He also continued to assist with the school feeding scheme.
According to the school's obituary, Solomons was appointed as a teacher at Macassar High in 1995, 12 years after he matriculated at the school.
"He had a love for history and taught this subject with pride," the school said in a post on its Facebook page.
"Under his leadership, the school received a merit award from the [Western Cape Education Department] for the history results of matriculants in 2018."
A compassionate teacher, who was involved with school rugby and its hiking club, the school said many pupils "testify of his humour and friendly personality".
"His last message to learners during a virtual school assembly on 28 April was one of encouragement and motivation to always give their best in their schoolwork," the post reads.
"The pursuit for democracy was close to his heart. He advocated the values of justice and equality for all. His role as a social activist will be cherished and remembered forever.
"We salute you beloved colleague, teacher and friend."