Superstition became reality on Friday, October 13, when a Woodstock family’s world was turned upside down.
For Ismaa’eel Wagner, 34, it was a normal day at the office. At the end of his workday, he left the office, taking his normal route home.
Driving on Bishop Lavis drive in rush hour traffic, he responded to a colleague’s voice note when disaster struck. Wagner became the victim of a smash and grab attack.
“My assumption is that he had his window open and lifted his phone to send a voice note, hence the window on his side wasn’t damaged,” said his sister Bilqees Wagner.
It is alleged he then jumped out of his vehicle to give chase to his attackers.
The Western Province and South African action netball player followed them into the Malawi squatter camp which is adjacent to Bishop Lavis. It’s believed he ran through some water puddles, and a live wire hanging haphazardly electrocuted him to death on the spot.
“His girlfriend raised the alarm at around 6pm when she could not reach him and he normally would be home by that time,” said his distraught sister.
“I called my dad and one of my brother’s friends and nobody knew where he was. Meanwhile, between 6 and 7 pm, the cops found the car, they ran the licence plate and it linked to my father because he was using my dad’s vehicle that day,” Wagner added.
“The SAPS contacted my dad and mentioned that there was an accident of sorts. My father did not outright tell me my brother was gone and played it down until we got to the Bishop Lavis police station and we were given this very bad news,” Wagner said.
While the victim was chasing the attackers, his vehicle was ransacked.
“The reason why the passenger side window is broken is because some other guys threw a brick through it and helped themselves to my brother’s other possessions,” said Wagner.
Police confirmed the incident and said an inquest docket for investigation was opened.
“Ravensmead police have opened an inquest docket for investigation following the discovery of a body at Malawi camp on Friday, 13 October 2023.
“Allegations are that he was a victim of a smash and grab whereby his cellphone was taken and he chased the suspects and ran into an illegal connection wiring that was hanging in the water and got electrocuted.
“He was later identified as a 34-year-old coloured man from Woodstock. No one has been arrested, the matter is still under investigation,” said Police spokesperson, Captain Nowonga Sukwana.
“I badly wanted to see my brother, but the police informed me it is rather difficult to enter Malawi camp,” said Wagner.
“On Saturday I had to identify my brother’s body and release it to bury him according to Muslim rites. Due to delays, we could only bury my brother the Sunday which also coincided with my late mom’s birthday,” Wagner added.
“I am at peace that my brother didn’t suffer, with the amount of electricity that shocked his body ... it must’ve been an instant death and furthermore he is now with my mom in heaven,” a grief-stricken Wagner said.
“I would like to know what the City of Cape Town is doing to stop these kinds of freak accidents, should they not be securing the wiring knowing that it is high voltage? And why are they not clamping down on the illegal usage of electricity in the various squatter camps?”
According to Councillor Beverley van Reenen, Mayoral Committee Member for Energy, the City is not aware of this matter as incidents such as this are often not reported.
“The growth in vandalism and illegal connections to electricity infrastructure has been exponential in recent years and appears to be spiralling out of control, despite many interventions by the City to remove the illegal connections.
“These illegal connections are extremely dangerous and virtually none of them have any means of protection. Load shedding is a major contributor and is making the situation even worse with the copper thieves or vandals having more time to strip the equipment while the power is off and taking advantage of the cover of darkness,” van Reenen added.
“In City-supply areas, in longer existing settlements where it has been feasible to do so, almost 100% of informal settlements are connected. Illegal connections are often run by large, well-oiled, and lucrative criminal syndicates.
“These connections are illegal. For all these reasons, it is incumbent on all authorities to act to reduce these risks and help from the community is vital.
“City operations in its supply areas have been ongoing.
“However, the City has started making these operations more visible through its communication. Another boost for the efforts has been the establishment of the Energy Safety Team, comprising energy and law enforcement officials,” van Reenen said.
Meanwhile, in an unrelated incident, a 5-year-old boy from Hanover Park died when he touched a live wire in front of his home.
On Monday, October 16, Mogamat Jardien was playing outside his house on a wet patch because the outside areas were cleaned.
It was reported that Mogamat didn’t wear shoes at the time of the incident and his family suspects that when he went outside, he touched a live wire while standing on the wet surface.
The five-year-old was rushed to hospital and an hour afterwards was declared deceased.
“Our teams have been on site and have spoken to the family as much as possible during this time. We offer our sincere condolences to the family.
“Upon inspection, teams have not been able to locate the vandalised infrastructure that could have caused this, as pointed out by members of the community,” van Reenen said.
“At the site pointed out by members of the public where the electrocution is alleged to have happened, electrocution was not possible, nor was any evidence found at the infrastructure. The streetlight cover was intact, the wire insulation was intact and there was no supply to the streetlight.
“Investigations continue to get to the facts of the matter,” Councillor van Reenen said.
“Any suspicious behaviour must be reported to the City’s law enforcement agencies or the City’s Fraud Hotline on 0800 1100 77 or to the SAPS. The SAPS remains the lead authority in crime prevention.”