'It's a nightmare we can't wake up from': Family of woman who died in freak accident at work

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Jihaan died in a freak accident at the shop she worked at in Tyger Valley Mall.
Jihaan died in a freak accident at the shop she worked at in Tyger Valley Mall.
  • Jihaan Orrie died in a freak accident at her work in Tyger Valley Shopping Centre on Thursday.
  • A heavy wooden bookshelf fell on her. 
  • Police have opened an inquest docket. 

The family of 40-year-old Jihaan Orrie, who died after a heavy wooden shelf fell on top of her at work at the Tyger Valley Shopping Centre in Durbanville on Thursday, are in shock that their sister's life has come to an end.

Orrie was a regional manager at the stationery outlet, Typo. She had been assisting a colleague at the store in the Tyger Valley Shopping Centre, which was set to relocate to a different site within the mall, when the incident occurred. 

Orrie had been working at Typo for nearly 14 years and loved her job, said her emotional sister Carmen Claassen, who added Orrie had a "heart of gold" and was loved by many.

"We are still in total disbelief that our sister is no longer with us. It feels like a nightmare that we need to wake up from but can't," a heartbroken Claassen told News24.

Claassen said the shock of the tragedy had hit her and her siblings very hard.

"As a family this is very hard for us all," she said.

Claassen said when she received the news about her sister's freak accident, her colleagues had to give her tablets to calm her because she could not believe what had happened.

"Where I work, we are not allowed to have our phones at our workstation but I could see there were lots of notifications on my phone, so I went to take the call," she said. It was another sister - Orrie was the third of seven siblings - who told Classen the tragic news.  

"I could hear her say: 'There was an accident at Jihaan's workplace... and she never made it out alive.' And then I went numb." 

Family photo: Carmen Claassen, Charmaine Fisher (Mother), Meagan fisher, Jihaan Orrie and right Leverne Snyders

Claassen said when she got to Orrie's workplace it was under renovation as they were set to move to another location inside the mall. 

"I was told that she was helping to move things in the store, packing up stuff when the heavy wooden shelf fell on top of her. She was a very petite person," Claassen added.  

Police spokesperson Sergeant Wesley Twigg said Bellville police had registered an inquest case following the death.

"The circumstances surrounding the incident are being investigated and no arrests have been made," Twigg added.

Orrie was laid to rest according to Muslim rites on Friday in Mitchells Plain. 

"She's originally from Mitchells Plain. I know she must be very happy to be buried in her hometown with all her loved ones and three children in attendance," Claassen said. 

Orrie's husband, Riyad Orrie, died in August last year after contracting Covid-19. 

"A year later and now all three of their kids are without parents. It's very sad, I feel for them the most right now," Claassen added.  

Claassen said the three children - aged 21, 16 and 7 - were staying with their grandmother until arrangements for them could be finalised.

Orrie would have turned 41 in December and the siblings had been planning a getaway in celebration, as they had not been together in a very long time.

"Jihaan loved her family. She was always very family orientated," said Claassen, who last saw her sister three weeks ago.

"Never in a million years did I think that would be the last time I would be seeing her alive," Classen said.

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