‘He told me he wanted to come home a hero,’ says uncle of SA boy who drowned in Palestine
A sombre mood filled the hall of Orchards Primary School in Norwood, Johannesburg, on Monday afternoon when family members, teachers and parents gathered to bid farewell to 11-year-old pupil Kabelo Masalesa, who drowned in Palestine during a soccer trip.
The coffin, draped in a SA flag, was greeted by pupils who formed a guard of honour. The hearse entered the school premises behind traffic officials riding motorcycles.
The memorial service started with the national anthem sung by pupils.
A banner with Kabelo’s picture was on the stage while other photographs were placed on the side of the hall next to candles.
The words “gone too soon” were placed above the photos.
Kabelo played for Black Poison Club in Alexandra and drowned in an accident on July 17 in Palestine.
“It’s indeed [true] that the world has lost a future Bafana Bafana star. He was a very important member of the grade 5A class and also a very important member of the school,” a pupil said in tribute.
Kabelo’s uncle and family representative Alfred Mamabolo said the youngster was excited about the trip the day before he left.
He told me, ‘you know what? When I come back, I want to come back as a hero.’ I didn’t know he was not going to come back alive.Alfred Mamabolo, family spokesperson
“He told everyone because everyone plays soccer at home. He said, ‘just stay at home and just watch me because I am turning professional; where I am going, you guys have never been there’.”
Mamabolo said the last call he made to his nephew was a video call. After that, no-one could get hold of him.
“I think it was on the Friday before he passed away. He told me, ‘you know what? When I come back, I want to come back as a hero.’ I didn’t know he was not going to come back alive. When kids are talking, some things only make sense after they pass on.”
He described “KB”, as he was affectionately known in soccer circles, as a jolly boy, adding the family was finding it difficult to cope with his death.
Kabelo reportedly drowned when he and other boys decided to go for a swim to cool down after a training session. His teammates returned to SA three days ago.
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