School mourns teacher’s death

Marcellus Avontuur.

Cecil Road Primary School in Salt River is mourning the sudden death of long-serving teacher Marcellus Avontuur.

Mr Avontuur, 52, died of a heart attack on Sunday April 7.

His family held a funeral at the Dock Mission Church, in Lugmag Avenue, Factreton, on Saturday April 13.

School principal Shahid Mathews said the church had been packed with family, friends, colleagues and pupils.

Mr Marcellus’s wife, Adielah, said he had been a good husband and father. “He is a great loss for us. He loved his children, he had a passion for helping children in the community to play for his Coleville United junior football club.”

The Avontuur family are from Mitchell’s Plain, so many of the children who played for his football club were from Samora Michel, the farm opposite Mandalay and Stock Road.

Mr Avontuur was at Cecil Road Primary for 30 years. He was the school’s PE teacher.

“Mr Avontuur was a keen sportsman and a lover of all forms of sports and played an instrumental role in the development of sport at the school,” said Mr Mathews.

Staff and pupils were still grappling with his death.

Fellow teacher Mariam de Villiers said: “He was not only a colleague, he was our friend, he was someone I could complain to, argue with, laugh with and the voice of reason.”

Nadia Arnold and Riyaz Jacobs had worked with Mr Avontuur for 25 years.

Ms Arnold said: “I know Mr Avontuur as a lover of sports; we worked very closely in athletics. When he came to work on Mondays, we would always discuss and talk about the soccer results of the weekend.”

Mr Jacobs said: “He was a legend at the school, I was never interested in sports, though because of him I got more involved in sports.”

Mr Jacobs said he had shared a close friendship with Mr Avontuur and they would also talk about their children’s sporting achievements.

The school held a memorial service for Mr Avontuur last Thursday.

He is survived by his wife, Adielah, his sons, Shukri and Ghaalib, his adopted daughter, Fadia Petersen, and his grandson, Yaqeen.