Teen cutting trees to pay rent killed in freak chainsaw accident

By Charlene Somduth Time of article published Jan 22, 2021

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Durban - YUNUS Pillay had dreams of giving his mother a better life.

But on Thursday, Yunus, 17, from Northdale in Pietermaritzburg, was killed when a chainsaw fell on his chest while he was cutting trees for his landlord to pay the rest of his mother’s rent.

Yunus shared a one-bedroom outbuilding with his mother, Selvie, sister Charlene, and uncle Kuben.

Selvie was unable to work because she is ill; Charlene could not find employment due to Covid-19. Kuben's grant of R1 800 and assistance from other family members helped them through the month.

Yunus’s cousin Mohammed Badat said the family owed R600 of the R2 300 rental they paid every month.

“Yunus decided to work for the landlord to pay off the debt. He was paid R100 a day from the wage he kept R50 aside to pay toward settling the R600 and R50 for himself. He had managed to pay off R300.”

Badat said the incident happened just after 3pm.

“When Yunus cut the tree, the tree fell. Yunus somehow slipped and fell backward with the chainsaw still in his hand. As he fell the chainsaw hit his chest, cutting his collar bone., It severed the artery to his heart. He was losing a lot of blood.“

Badat said another worker who was with him screamed for the landlord for help.

“They put him into a van and transported him to the Northdale Hospital where he died on arrival. The post mortem results showed that Yunus had bled to death. Yunus had little experience using a chainsaw and was not wearing any protective gear when the incident occurred.”

Badat said Yunus had left school in 2018.

“Academically he was not doing well. He wanted to get into a trade. We tried to get him into a trade school but his mother became very ill and he decided not to go back to school but work to provide for his mother. He did odd jobs and whatever he earned he used in the home for food.”

He said his aunt (Selvie) has not been the same since.

“She has not eaten and she cannot sleep. She is constantly crying out for him. The family is hurting because all he wanted to do was help them. He did not like to see his mother worried. He dreamed of getting a job to support her and to give her a better life.”

Badat said Yunus was a gem.

“While most boys his age would be out with friends he wanted to work. He was humble, respectful, friendly, outgoing, and always ready to assist anyone in need. He had the best qualities.”

Yunus’s death was the second tragedy to hit the family.

“About 11 years ago his brother, Danpaul Pillay, was stabbed to death. Selvie never got over losing him and having Yunus killed in such a tragic manner has left her even more broken.”

Yunus was buried on January 15.

The landlord could not be reached for comment.

Police spokesperson Captain Nqobile Gwala said an inquest into Yunus’s death has been opened at the Mountain Rise Police Station.


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