A driver who ploughed into a four-year-old boy in front of his shocked family on Saturday, sped off from the scene after dragging the youngster nearly 100m to his death.
Bloodstains could still be seen at the corner of Bardien Avenue and Bergins Street in Bloemendal, Bethelsdorp, yesterday, tracing the last agonising moments of little Orlando du Plessis’s life.
He was alive briefly after the incident at 5.45pm but died before an ambulance arrived.
For his mother, Monique du Plessis, 27, it was the second tragedy to contend with in one day, following her grandmother’s funeral earlier that morning.
Devastated family members were too shocked to comment yesterday.
Witness Heather Gabriel, 35, said it had all happened so fast.
“I saw the blue Jumbo Golf coming from the opposite direction and actually thought it was going to stop at the tavern, but was completely shocked when I heard the loud bang and realised it had hit Orlando, who had pulled away from his mother to cross the street.”
Du Plessis and her children had walked outside to say their farewells to visitors who attended the funeral. Gabriel said Orlando had been holding his mother’s left hand while she carried her youngest child in her other arm.
Nearing home, Orlando broke free from his mother’s grip and started to run across the road when he was struck by the car.
Du Plessis and Orlando’s father, Remush Jonas, 37, sat in stunned silence yesterday as friends spoke about the spirited youngster.
Luciano Martin, 31, who is engaged to Orlando’s aunt, described him as a loving, friendly and active child who enjoyed playing with friends.
“He was a friendly boy and I remember asking him in the week about school and when he was going to school,”Martin said.
“He said, ‘Don’t worry about me, I’m going to school next year’, and said he would be going to Adolph Schauder Primary School.”
Martin said Orlando had been in good spirits on Saturday prior to his great- grandmother’s funeral and he had complimented the youngster on how smart he looked.
“Before the funeral, I told my fiance how beautiful Orlando looked,” Martin said.
“He heard me and said, ‘Ja Boza, I’m dressed for the occasion’, which we all laughed at.”
As family members shared stories of how Orlando had spent his last day, his father started crying. The tears also rolled down Du Plessis’s face, and she nodded every now and then as they spoke.
Recalling the moment of impact, Martin said all he could do was scream for the driver to stop when they realised Orlando was stuck underneath the car.
He said there were two other men in the car, and a woman sitting in the passenger seat.
“He [the driver] stopped for like three seconds and when he started pulling away, I screamed and swore at him to stop,” Martin said.
“He accelerated and drove towards Bergins Street. We followed him in a car and, unfortunately, lost him in Arcadia.”
Martin said he thought the driver might have been spooked by the number of people running towards him when he drove off.
Neighbour Miena Lee said she had heard the impact from inside her house and found out later that Orlando had died.
“We ’ve been neighbours with his family for nearly 40 years and always lived as one big happy group,” she said.
“Everyone in the street is just heartbroken that our football star is gone. That boy was forever kicking a ball.”
Lee’s son, Godwin, said he hoped the tragedy would prompt authorities to install speed humps in Bergins Street because cars were always speeding along the road.
Orlando’s aunt, Edith Gabriel, recalled how Orlando had been the only child who spoke up after she had asked everyone to say something about “Granny” just before she died.
“Every night we said prayers just before my mother died and, as little as he was, he was aware of what was going on and simply gave thanks to Granny and said, ‘Thank you mama’,” she said.
“His life was a real blessing to us.”
Police spokeswoman Colonel Priscilla Naidu said a case of culpable homicide was being investigated.
She appealed to anyone with information to contact the police.speed humps in Bergins Street because cars were always speeding along the road.