Schoolmates rally with ‘acts of kindness’

Funeral delayed for family’s quarantine

STUDENTS at Fremantle College have been coming together all week to do “beautiful acts of kindness”, according to the mother of an 18-year-old woman who was stabbed last week at a house in Spearwood.

Their classmate, Cameila Thomas, died in hospital on Wednesday morning. Her 17-year-old boyfriend was taken into custody shortly after the tragedy but has since been released while police investigations continue. 

Cameila had celebrated her 18th birthday in the backyard of her mother’s house just a few weeks earlier surrounded by her school friends. She would have been sitting final exams soon.

Her mother, Corneli Minnaar is grateful that so many students have been supporting each other and her family by making artworks in tribute to her daughter. 

Fairy gardens

The woodfire stove in Corneli’s kitchen is crowded with small works including decorated vases and small fairy gardens and Corneli has changed her profile on Facebook to a photo of a largescale mural of Cameila’s name. 

Corneli doesn’t know who did the mural or where it is but she is grateful for the gestures of beauty her daughter’s death has inspired.

“The kids are getting together and doing art and there is just so much love,” Corneli said. “It’s soothing, it’s healing that these beautiful kids keep coming here and creating.”

Close friends of Cameila will be invited to paint her coffin in preparation for a funeral that will have to take place at least a month from now so that Cameila’s father from South Africa can attend. 

He is in quarantine in South Africa for two weeks prior to flying to Perth and will be in hotel quarantine for another two weeks once he arrives.

“Cameila was a ray of sunshine,” her mother said. “I’m not just saying that because I was her mother – everyone said that. She was always just so kind, so caring. She was described by her friends as extremely generous and totally selfless.”

“I am thankful for the 18 years with her. There were only good years. No bad years.

“I’m so proud to have been her mum.”

Cameila, a Year 12 student, studied marine biology at Fremantle College and loved the ocean. 

Her family plan to scatter some of her ashes in the ocean at Exmouth because Cameila had travelled to Exmouth and badly wanted her whole family to experience the Ningaloo Reef. Cameila had been planning to travel after graduating from Year 12 together with girlfriends from school for six months before studying teaching at University. 

“She would have been a great teacher,” Corneli said.

“She was a natural. She has been caring for her brothers, Phillu and Alex, since she was little and they adored her.”

“She was an angel here when she was alive, and she is an angel now.”

A mother of a friend of Cameila’s, Lisa Pattinson, has started a GoFundMe page to help cover funeral expenses and the cost of bringing Cameila’s grandparents and father from South Africa. 

Emergency travel

The costs of emergency travel in these Covid times is fierce. Flights are just shy of $7000 each and hotel quarantine adds up to $7350 for the three. 

Mrs Pattinson writes on the GoFundMe page that every small contribution helps. You can donate at https://gofund.me/e092800a

Corneli has been overwhelmed with the kindness of her friends and the community around her and from strangers.

“A generous South African-Australian lady, Charlotte, that I didn’t know has arranged for a network of support from incredibly generous South Africans here in Perth including Kotze Law lawyers to help with the process of getting travel exemptions for my family and travel agents, Vtravel, to make sure flights were direct to Perth instead of flying all over the place.”

Parents of Cameila’s brother Phillu’s rugby team, Palmyra Rugby Club, have been raising funds and generally providing support to the family while friends have been bringing around food and offers of help daily – so much food in fact that another friend has supplied a freezer to store the food that can’t be eaten straight away. 

Corneli waves her arm around her kitchen gesturing to the biscuits baked by rugby parents and grandparents. 

“My family have been surrounded by the love and support from friends and the community. I’m so grateful,” Corneli said.

“When my friend Nimrod Kazoom-chef who has a catering company heard the news he spent two days cooking and brought over a huge spread of delicious Middle Eastern food – it was so wonderful.”

Disclaimer: Mignon Shardlow is a friend of Ms Minnaar.

By MIGNON SHARDLOW

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