By Tauhierah Salie
The tragic story of Tanzanian National Yusuf Kariboto’s heroic attempt to rescue little Abieda Paulse from the Vygieskraal canal in Belgravia is one that is yet to be concluded.
The valiant hafith had jumped into the canal to save the eight-year-old on the 9th of July, after she slipped and fell on the wet bank while playing with friends amid a heavy storm. The current washed their bodies away with Abieda’s later emerging under the M5 Bridge 10 days later and Yusuf’s in Bokmakierie the next day.
Yusuf is yet to be buried as his identity has not been determined by officials. His face had reportedly deteriorated due to being in the water and his relative could not positively identify him. But Omar said that he knew it was his cousin by the build of his body and cloths he was wearing.
Yusuf was described as a hero, helpful and kind, who always assisted during community feeding schemes.
His cousin, Jama Omar, who had been living in South Africa for 18 years said that his pleas for officials to check his cousin’s pocket for a Tanzanian driver’s license when the body was found, fell on deaf ears. According to Omar, Yusuf always carried it in his pocket.
“I told them to check the cloths he has- he walks with a card. But that people didn’t want to hear me, nothing. They chased me away: ‘just stand there’,” Omar said, waving his hand dismissively.
Omar recalled being displeased with the manner that his cousin’s body was handled. He claimed that the stones along which he was dragged up to the bank, further damaged the deceased body.
“The way they took his body out was not like he was a human being, it’s like he was a dog or whatever. When I told them ‘you can’t put his body in a plastic like that’ they said, ‘you can’t teach us.’”
Yusuf is survived by his elderly parents, wife and an 11-year-old son. Omar said the family abroad is impoverished and lives on village.
Imam Salih Davids, who had been proactive in the search for both Abieda and Yusuf, said he is in regular contact with the family and they are heartbroken.
“The family has been struggling, at the moment it is very, very difficult for them. They cry every day by me to do this janaaza. At the end of the day it is our duty to help them,” said Davids.
According to Treasurer and HOD of the MJC’s Social Development Council, Shayk Faadil Emandien, said community members approached the council about having Yusuf AR buried. He said that obtaining the DNA is not the problem.
“Immediately we got in contact with Muslim Hands and Gift of the Givers to try to assist. Unfortunately, there is some red tape persisting in the matter because our brother had died without any documentation for him to be in South Africa.
Once the DNA has been taken from the brother it goes to Tanzania and there the block is possibly coming from because there, they have to release paper work which they have not necessarily been prepared to do. We don’t know what the reasons are, but we are trying our utmost best,” he said.
Although the family would have wanted him buried in Tanzania, South Africa’s ongoing Covid-19 lockdown regulations prohibited international travel. Omar also pointed out that it was Yusuf’s wish to be buried in Cape Town. Shayk said that all preparations for burial- including the cost- are finalized, apart from the crucial paper work.
“The mortuary has done what it’s supposed to and everyone is prepared, everything is in place. The family is happy if the body is released to us, and that we have (him) buried in Cape Town as long as it’s done by Muslim rites.”
Imam Davids explained that the family requires support that goes beyond finances.
“Money is not a problem because at the end of the day it is our duty. Our duty is to come to Vygieskraal, show your appreciation and support. Stand together as one ummah because at this moment we are split,” said Davids.
“We don’t need your money, we just need your care- to show these people we want to assist where we can,” he added.
Apart from calling on the public to make dua for Yusuf AR, he echoed the call for government to assist.
“We are appealing to our community to please make Dua for our brother, he has died a hero. He had given his life for a child. If anyone can assist us from government can assist us with the process, kindly do,” requested Shayk Emandien.