Father of drowned footballer: 'State takes too long to test bodies for covid19'

Memorial for Raheem Belgrave at his funeral on Saturday. - SUREASH CHOLAI
Memorial for Raheem Belgrave at his funeral on Saturday. - SUREASH CHOLAI

Leader of the TT arm of the Nation of Islam David Muhammed is angered by the lengthy time it takes for for bodies to be tested for covid19.

Speaking on Saturday at the funeral for his son, footballer Raheem Belgrave, Muhammed made a public apology to the staff of the Forensic Science Centre for letting his anger get the better of him when he tried to get the body for burial. He said his grief caused him to feel angry.

He lamented that the Government has been wasting resources as it relates to covid19. He said, "The State is more concerned with testing for covid19 than anything. Raheem's funeral should have been on Wednesday. Instead they have prolonged the process by wanting to test if a man who drowned had covid19."

Belgrave was laid to rest six days after his death. He died by drowning on January 16 at Paria river. Police said between 10 am and 2 pm a group of hikers, including 29-year-old Belgrave were at the river. He got into difficulty while bathing and disappeared below the surface. Police said when his friends pulled him from the water, he was unresponsive.

The interfaith service was held at the Kwame Ture Education and Development Centre, Laventille. Over 100 people came to show their respects and give comfort to Muhammed and the family of Belgrave.

Belgrave started playing football while attending St Xavier's Primary School, before going on to St Mary's College and then the University of the West Indies where he joined the football team.

Muhammed said when his son was eight, his football coach said he would be a goalkeeper. Muhammed said he was happy his son liked football over karate. Belgrave played for TT's under-17 team, Joe Public under-17, Jabloteh FC, SKHYM, Queen's Park. In 2018, the Wembley Football Club signed Belgrave where he played as a goalkeeper for the London Jaguar team.

Shortly after the service began ushers had to close the doors and turn people away as the building had reached its maximum 50 per cent capacity under the public health stipulations.

TT's Nation of Islam leader David Muhammad speaks at the funeral for his son Raheem Belgrave at the Kwame Ture Education and Development Centre, Laventille on Saturday. - SUREASH CHOLAI

Belgrave's casket was black and draped with the national flag at the front of the centre's hall.

Muhammed spoke on the importance of fatherhood and his relationship with his son. He said, "I was able to produce a son that I know was great."

He said Belgrave did not drink, smoke, gamble or involve himself in reckless activity. He said, "My son never lost his temper, never used obscene language or slandered anyone."

He said Belgrave was a merciful person. "He was my companion for the first six months, he was my friend."

He said his son loved TT so much that despite living in England he always returned home. He said on this last trip, Belgrave put off his flight many times because of his love for country.

He spoke fondly of how his son helped to lay floor tiles at the centre, always calling while on his way home to ask if Muhammed needed anything.

He said, "On his last day before leaving to live in England, he updated his Facebook status to say, 'I am leaving Trinidad, I love my parents more than anything else."

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