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PICS: Sadness and grief overcome KZN town after 9yr-old school girl dies of Covid-19

A hearse carrying the body Acaciavale Primary School, Grade 4 learner nine year-old Shanika Balsarang drives past her school so that her friends could pay their last respects. Picture Claudine Senekal / Ladysmith Herald.

A hearse carrying the body Acaciavale Primary School, Grade 4 learner nine year-old Shanika Balsarang drives past her school so that her friends could pay their last respects. Picture Claudine Senekal / Ladysmith Herald.

Published Aug 10, 2021

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Durban - An outpouring of grief and sadness struck the KwaZulu-Natal town of Ladysmith after a nine-year-old school girl succumbed to Covid-19.

Shanika Balsarang a grade 4 pupil at Acaciavale Primary died on August 1 - three days after she fell ill with Covid-19 symptoms.

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She was cremated on August 3.

Scores of her fellow schoolmates and teachers lined up, some inconsolable with grief, outside the school as a hearse carrying her body made its way along for them to say their final goodbyes.

Fellow Grade 4 Acaciavale Primary School classmates stood weeping, as the funeral motorcade passed their school. Picture: Claudine Senekal / Ladysmith Herald.

The teary-eyed community released balloons into the air and threw flower petals at the funeral motorcade.

According to the Ladysmith Herald, Shanika and her whole family had been infected by Covid-19.

A teacher at the school told the publication that Shanika had been taking care of the family and then suddenly complained that she was not feeling well. She was the family’s only child.

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Acaciavale Primary School grade 4 learners could not fight back the tears, during heartbreaking funeral motorcade, that allowed grade 4 learners to bid farewell to fellow learner, nine year-old Shanika Balsarang. Picture: Claudine Senekal / Ladysmith Herald.

She fell ill on the Friday and on Sunday had died of complications related to the virus.

Suri Kathan, Department head for Foundation Phase at Acaciavale Primary Schoo told the Ladysmith Herald that she taught Shanika from Grade R and that the nine-year-old’s death was a huge shock.

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Classmates of nine year-old Shanika Balsarang could not fight back the tears, during heartbreaking funeral motorcade. Picture: Claudine Senekal / Ladysmith Herald.

"Educators and learners here can tell that Shanika had a heart of gold and she was one that would just make a person's day, with her smile or her greeting, I don't think anyone here at this school did not know who Shanika was," she said.

The primary school girls death come as the number of Covid-19 cases in KwaZulu-Natal driven by the Delta Variant continues to increase.

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According to the National Institute of Communicable Diseases, KZN was second behind the Western Cape in terms of new infections and accounted for 21 per cent of all new cases reported on Monday (1 442).

Country-wide, there were 241 more hospital admissions in the past 24 hours with a total of 14 820 now in hospital with Covid-19.

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