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Cape Town - In the front yard of a house in Kalksteenfontein, brothers Lucien, 19, and Turwin, 11, are one man short for a soccer target practice game. It’s been exactly a week since their older brother was found dead and disembowelled in the field of the high school where he used to be an athletics star.
Anrich Isaacs, 22, was stabbed so many times in the stomach that his intestines fell out. His mutilated body was found at Arcadia Secondary School in Bonteheuwel last Monday morning.
Police have arrested two suspects.
It was alleged Anrich died because of a drug debt.
“He was a very pleasant child, even when he was on drugs,” said his mother, Lorna Isaacs.
“He could always make me laugh.”
Anrich had been taking drugs since August, when he started hanging out with a new group of friends in Kalksteenfontein, his mother said.
The last time she saw her son was last Sunday, when he came home for supper at 9pm.
After eating, he went to visit his cousin in Bonteheuwel. He normally returned at about 10pm, but when he failed to come home, his mother worried all night.
At 8am the police arrived with Anrich’s ID book.
When Lorna went to identify the body, she found Anrich on his back, with his right arm covering his face. Around the wrist that shielded his face was her black hair tie - the one he had refused to give back to her.
Anrich was close to his brothers, although he supported Chelsea and they were Barcelona fans.
He captained Kalksteenfontein United for three years.
His team won the Premier League, and moved up to the Super League.
Anrich had been playing for the club since he was seven.
Club chairman Sidney Petersen lives across the road from Anrich’s father, who was also a keen footballer, and knows the family.
“Anrich followed in his dad’s footsteps,” he said. “We had hopes of taking it further, but it’s difficult to keep the focus of young people.”
Petersen said this year’s season was the first that Anrich had not played for the club. “It was a very troubled year for him. The interest just wasn’t there any more.”
Petersen estimated that 70 percent of the club’s players became gangsters.
“We’ve lost a lot to gangsterism,” he said. “We raise them from juniors, (but) once they get to senior level, they start fading out. They just stop coming, and you hear they’re involved in wrong activities after hours.”
For his soccer coach and close friend Rieyaad Stephens, Anrich was the best person to smoke a cigarette and have a beer with after the game.
“We don’t know what he did behind our backs, but with us he was a person in a million,” Stephens said.
“He was like a pest, man. He made me come out even when I had no money. He worked on your nerves, but you loved him for it.”
They would hit the Open Arms club for dancing and karaoke on Saturday nights.
Anrich was a good dancer - it was better than his singing, anyway. On the nights when they were out of cash for clubbing, it was cards, dominoes or pool.
“When I met Anrich, my life of laughing started,” Stephens said.
“I spent 10 years with him. Whenever I was sad, he made my day.”
Anrich was the youngest in the group, and the only one without a job. One of the men at the soccer club hired him to install ceilings, but he was retrenched earlier this year.
“He was only troubled when he wasn’t working,” Stephens said. “The only time he moaned was if he didn’t have money for takkies or a shirt. He never spoke about his personal life.”
Throughout the community he was known as “Karrentjie” because, Stephens said, that guy could run.
“The last time I saw him, I invited him to watch a game. He said he was tired and wanted to go rest. I told him here’s a R5, go buy cigarettes. There was nothing strange about it.”
At Arcadia Secondary, the teachers recalled that Anrich was an athlete, but couldn’t quite put a face to his name.
As the principal went through the files of names and grades trying to find a record of him, another teacher yanked a Grade 9 boy through the door by his rucksack strap.
“This boy has now started a gang! See on his school bag? BEK.”
The 14-year-old let out a sudden yelp and doubled over, holding his stomach.
“My hand slipped,” the teacher said. He turned to the principal. “This boy is suspended for seven days for bunking class, and now he’s in a gang. He’s going to end up dead like that boy on the field.”
The boy said: “I’m not a gangster, I’m not going to lose my life so early.”
The teacher and pupil left the office.
Acting principal Chris Arendse said: “That boy is on a road to nowhere. The sad thing is, this is actually an intelligent boy.”
Anrich left Arcadia Secondary School in Grade 10.
Out of 250 children who enrolled in Grade 8, only 50 made it to Grade 12, Arendse said. Just this year, 15 Grade 8 pupils in the Afrikaans stream had dropped out.
“I think the hope for them to have a good future is nil, non-existent,” Arendse said. Earning money to help their families was not the main reason they ditched school.
“Some drop out just to stand around and do nothing in the community. Their ‘work’ becomes our nightmare.”
Without a matric certificate, job prospects were dim.
“A learner who drops out in the earlier grades, the only job he’s going to get is in a gang,” Arendse said. “Schools are a breeding ground for gangsters.”
Even if a drop-out landed a job, there would be little chance of climbing the ranks and establishing a career.
“It’s sad as an educator to think our duty is to send learners to add value to society, but that this is not happening on a grand scale. We can’t be proud of ourselves.”
Arendse said drugs were a problem at the school, despite regular searches and education programmes.
“The use of drugs is one of the biggest problems here. It is so serious that the learners think it is normal. If you have the audacity to come to school and smoke dagga in the stairwell…”
Along with drug abuse came a sense of lawlessness and violence. “In the light of so many murders and bodies I think the children have become desensitised.”
Arendse said that far from discouraging pupils from getting involved with drugs or gangs, seeing Anrich’s body might encourage them to become gangsters.