Student’s death shocks campus


ERIN WALLS

During the first week of the third term tragedy struck Huis Visser men’s residence. Leandró Hopley, a first year BCom (Management Sciences) student, passed away after an alleged alcohol related incident.

After a night spent in Huis Visser’s Kingfisher pub he was found unconscious in his room. “Leandró was found on his side by a HK member around 23:30 who noticed his lips were blue. We understand that he aspirated, and did not choke as previously reported,” Werner de Wit, residence head of Huis Visser, said.

Paramedics apparently spent 40 minutes trying to start his heart again, and he was transported directly to Stellenbosch provincial hospital. He was found to have 6% brain activity and was placed on life support.

On 26 July, his family made the decision to switch off the machines. Captain Natalie Martin, head of communications at the Stellenbosch Police Station, claims they only received the case file on Monday and “have no further up-dates on the situation”.

De Wit said that all residents are allowed to use alcohol throughout the whole year. “First years have been allowed to come into the bigger Kingfisher social area all year. The past Wednesday was the first time they could enter the bar area, where they were welcomed with either a soft drink or an alcoholic beverage,” De Wit said.

“The rest of the evening there was a social event with Isa [residence], where punch was served. A mentor and friends took Leandró to his room as he was not feeling well, and it is uncertain how much he had to drink.”

De Wit said that over the course of the night HK members and various friends kept checking up on him.

“I called the ER, and immediately they arrived to start CPR until he was stabilised with a pulse and taken to Stellenbosch hospital. He was then placed on a ventilator and declared brain dead, where after machines were switched off on Friday,” he said. De Wit said that he was with Hopley the whole night after the incident.

De Wit said that out of respect, other social events in Huis Visser are cancelled for the next immediate period and would “urge other residences to do the same”. Hopley’s death, and the events surrounding it, has reopened deliberations on the much discussed drinking culture in Stellenbosch.

Marcus Knight, a HK member from Majuba, said: “We understand that such a tragedy was caused by drinking practices in residence, and we will thus be scrutinising our own alcohol policy and culture during HK meeting this Sunday. A conversation will be opened with the House where-in our traditions and practices sur-rounding alcohol will be reevaluated.”

Brandon Hughes, Simonsberg prim, said: “In general, it may be time for all of us to discuss the implications and possibilities of the current attitude towards alcohol on campus. Whilst drinking is a personal choice, what we can do is make sure that the personal choice made is an informed choice.”

Hopley’s memorial service will be held in Kruiskerk in Stellenbosch on Saturday 3 August.

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