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Duban - A 19-year-old Durban medical student studying in China has plunged seven storeys to his death after leaning over to chat to friends on a balcony below.
Mujahid Desai slipped and for a few moments managed to hang on to the railing before falling to the ground on Monday.
He went into a coma and died hours later.
His parents, Idris and Zaida Desai, are on their way to China to bury their son.
It was to have been a special time for the family as Desai was expected home next week for his sister’s wedding. His father bought his son’s plane ticket to South Africa on Monday.
“He was a lovely, lovable child,” his mother told The Mercury on Tuesday.
“I know everyone says this about their children, but he really was a special child, he was everybody’s child – I just can't explain it.”
Zaida said she and Idris were proud of their son’s achievements during his first semester at medical school where he was achieving marks of up to 99 percent.
Desai was studying at the Wenzhou Medical College in Zhejiang province as there were no places for him at medical institutions in South Africa.
He loved China and was working hard and studying for long hours, his mother said.
The last time Zaida saw her son was in October, and although she chatted to him regularly, she had not done so in the past week. Instead, she was preparing for his return and putting together a basket of food for him to take back to China.
Idris said the Chinese authorities had been helpful and that foul play had been ruled out.
“I could not have asked for anything more. This is God’s will,” he said.
Mufti Zubair Bayat, president of the Darul Ihsan, a Muslim community in KwaZulu-Natal, said that from an Islamic point of view, a speedy burial was required.
“If the body is going to be transported to another country, a lot of red tape is involved which will cause significant delay. The best thing to do is to have the burial as quickly as possible.”
Foreign Affairs spokesman Clayson Monyela said the South African government would, via its embassy in China, render consular assistance to the Desai family.
Desai was at the Orient Islamic School in Overport for 12 years. The headmaster, Ebrahim Ansur, said: “The sudden loss has come as a big shock to us.”
Desai was “very keen on sport and worked very hard to do well academically”.
Mika Reyazuddin, who described Desai as “more than a friend”, tweeted: “I cannot emphasis the pain. My brother is gone: broken and shattered! RIP Mujahid my Muji muffin...*crying*.”
On Facebook, Mohamed Faraaz Akoo, a classmate of Desai in China, said: “To Allah we belong and to Him is our return, please make du’AA for our brother, dear friend and classmate Mujahid Desai.”