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Pretoria - A black leather jacket, suit pants and a black and pink striped shirt - an outfit meant for his matric farewell - will now be the clothes a young boy will wear in his coffin.
Placing flowers on Wednesday on the train tracks where his son died, Warrant Officer Cobus Ras said his son’s death could have been prevented if the area had been properly fenced off.
Cobus Junior, an 18-year-old Höerskool Die Wilgers pupil, died on Monday afternoon when he was electrocuted on the railway tracks in Rayton just a few kilometres from the house where he lived with his dad.
Ras Senior was the first to arrive on the scene where his son lay dead, flung from the top of a stationary train carriage. “Half of me thought like a police officer and the other half as a dad. I tried to resuscitate him. My cop instinct told me he was gone, but my dad instinct told me to keep on trying.”
Cobus Junior was returning home after dropping off DVDs at the video shop with his younger cousin. The boys, like many others, used the short cut - crossing the railway - as opposed to walking all the way down a few blocks.
“My nephew came running into the house and said I must come quick because Cobus wasn’t breathing.
“He explained that they wanted to cross the tracks but a train was in the way. They decided to climb on to and over it. When Cobus got to the top there must have been an electrical current from somewhere. That’s when it shocked him and flung him off the train.”
The police officer said he arrived to find his son had hit his head on a stone which was still lodged inside. “The right side of his face had a big burn wound. His hair was also burnt.
“All I could focus on was trying to get him breathing again, but it didn’t work.”
On Wednesday, Cobus Senior took his younger son, Henko Ras, to place flowers on the track.
A gate to the residential area stood wide open and there was an opening in the fence to get access to the railway line.
No security guards were in sight and various access routes from residential areas to the tracks could be seen.
As the Ras family placed the flowers on the track, a woman and a toddler made their way across the tracks, despite the overhead pedestrian bridge.
“The bridge is there, yes, but no one uses it. People think its quicker to just walk across the tracks. My son was one of them despite me warning him not to.
“It’s a silly thing and he should have known better, but he was just a kid. If the area was properly fenced off then no one would even be able to get on to the tracks, preventing accidents like these,” Cobus Senior said.
Henko said the incident was still hard to believe. “We were close like brothers are. We saw each other every second week and spoke a lot. He was my brother and even though we stayed apart, I’m going to miss him. I can’t believe it’s real,” he said.
Cobus Senior and the boy’s mother are divorced. Henko lived with his mom in Pretoria, while Cobus lived with his dad in Rayton.
Cobus Senior sat next to the tracks and told the Pretoria News that if the area was not secured properly more accidents could happen.
“My son is gone now, we can’t bring him back, but we can let other people learn from this. Don’t cross on the tracks, use the bridge. But it’s only human nature - when you see a faster and easier way to do something, you will. Those responsible for this land should fence it off properly, so no pedestrians can access it.”
A close family friend said Cobus Junior’s mother was too distraught to speak to the media.
Transnet could not be reached for comment on Wednesday.
A funeral service will be held at the Lewende Woord Church in Brummeria at 10am on Friday.