Cape Town - Junaid Arendse received an emotional farewell at his funeral on Saturday morning, when hundreds of people flocked to Orion Church International to say their goodbyes.
The Mitchells Plain cancer victim passed away in Red Cross Hospital on New Year’s Day.
After being diagnosed with stage 4 neuroblastoma in 2014, the little fighter had defied doctors’ predictions by living to the age of eight.
Mourners filed past Junaid’s tiny white and gold coffin, where he lay dressed in his favourite black suit, black tie and white shirt.
Among the 300 mourners were well-known personalities, including Cape Town Mayor Patricia de Lille, Human Settlements Minister Lindiwe Sisulu and comedian Kurt Schoonraad.
Junaid’s mother, Monique, sobbed uncontrollably over his coffin and had to take medication to calm her.
His family surrounded the coffin - the only member missing was his father, Marco Erasmus, who is in prison and wasn’t able to attend the funeral.
In a heartbreaking tribute to Junaid, Minister Sisulu spoke of the pain of the loss of her husband to pancreatic cancer in December 2016.
“We barely had three months to deal with my husband’s cancer and then he was gone,” she said.
“When I heard about Junaid after my husband’s death, I knew this would be an opportunity to do for this baby what I couldn’t do for my husband.”
Sisulu had visited the little boy at his Portland home last year to offer support and brought him gifts.
De Lille broke down on stage as she spoke about cancer victims, and was comforted by Sisulu.
“Almost every second week, we hear of someone who died of cancer,” she said.
“Cancer is becoming a faster killer than any other illness.
“Junaid’s short life was taken away so cruelly.”
Hazeldene Primary School principal Mr Blaauw said Junaid was a feisty learner.
“When I met Junaid three years ago, he started Grade R at our school and he was smaller than the normal Grade R learners,” he said.
“I’ve heard about his terminal illness and willingness to still be in school.
“I admired his desire to live a full life.”
Junaid was laid to rest at Klip Road Cemetery.