‘A peacemaker’: family mourns firefighter killed with Amapiano artists
‘His mother has become sick, she hasn’t accepted that her son has passed on’
The family of Sonnyboy Evans Ragkokong, the firefighter who died last weekend in a tragic car accident that also claimed the lives of five Amapiano artists, is still devastated and heartbroken by his death.
The 55-year-old firefighter, who was working at the Rustenburg fire department, was driving to Pretoria at the time of the accident.
Rainy Tefo Sithole, his cousin and also a colleague, said his mother Alice hadn’t fully accepted her son’s death and had fallen ill.
“His mother is heartbroken. She hasn’t accepted that her son has passed on. What I am thankful for is that we were able to give him a dignified burial.”
Sithole said the pair were close.
“His mother loved him so much, she even used to say: ‘Out of all my children, you call me by my name but this one calls me mother.’ He was like the last born. She loved her son with all her heart. He used to spend most of his time with his mother. They were very close. She is now sick.”
Ragkokong’s wife Sheila Sithole Ragkokong and two children are also grieving, she said, along with his three siblings.
“It was his mother’s birthday yesterday. She was sick and quiet. She didn’t enjoy her birthday. On her birthday, he used to come and buy her a cake, make a braai and enjoy with her. This time it was different. It was very sad,” she said.
Sithole said Ragkokong used to joke around and love to be called “rich”.
“He used to love being called rich, that was the name he loved so much, not the riches of money but the riches of love and peace. He was a peaceful person, he didn’t love fights, he was a peace maker,” Sithole said.
She said work was not the same without Ragkokong.
“We were heartbroken at work that people are only mentioning celebrities and are forgetting him and it has affected us badly. Everyone at work is affected because we have lost a person who loves teaching. He was the one who loves teaching people their job at work. He would tell them that knowing a job wasn’t about getting a Masters, but practical work counts in fire,” she said.
Sithole said they heard of his death from a family friend who, when passing the accident scene, recognised Ragkokong’s number plate.
“He called one of my cousins and told her that ‘your uncle is involved in an accident’.
“When we heard about his passing, it was so painful.
“I was shattered when she told me the news. I didn’t understand what was going on. It was just darkness around me. I didn’t expect anything like that,” she said.
Sithole said Ragkokong had previously survived an illness that the family thought was going to claim his life. Instead, he may have had a premonition.
“He once said that he will not be killed by a sickness but he will die another way.”
Ragkokong was buried on Saturday in Lemenong, Phokeng, in North West.