Boy, 13, and aunt, 33, die in grain silo after she jumped in to save him

A teenage boy and his aunt have died after falling into a grain silo on a farm in South Africa.

Kerneels Rautenbach, 13, was playing with a friend at Groenvlei Farm near Standerton, an hour’s drive from Johannesburg, when he fell into the vat on Friday.

His 33-year-old aunt, Jackie Rautenbach, ran over after hearing the friend crying for help.

She is believed to have slipped and fallen in while trying to pull Kerneels from the grain.

Her husband was reportedly a few feet away at the time but was also unable to save her.

Several farmers from the surrounding area are said to have ‘worked tirelessly’ scooping out the maize from the silo, but reached the pair too late.

Paramedics pronounced them dead at the scene.

Kerneels’ mum wrote on Facebook: ‘My child, may the angels surround you with love and listen to all your stories, make them laugh and show all your tricks. May you play cricket and play rugby and you tackle all the guys.


‘You were extremely precious, you were my pillar of support with the most beautiful soft heart, now you are an angel, my angel.’

In a statement, the family added: ‘The Rautenbach family thanks each and everyone who was here and tried their best to save an impossible situation, also to those who could not be here but expressed their heartfelt sympathy.’

The boy’s school wrote on social media: ‘Our hearts are hurting, our words are few. Kerneels Rautenbach, in your short time with us on earth, you have touched many hearts.

‘You will always be remembered for the beautiful boy with the most beautiful heart. Our Stannies are going to miss you.

‘Rest in peace Kerneels. Heartfelt sympathy and condolences to the Rautenbach family.’

An investigation into the incident is being carried out, but detectives believe the deaths to be accidental.

Grain piles can swallow a human body in seconds, causing suffocation and are extremely difficult to escape from.

Children account for a large proportion of deaths from grain entrapment, partly as farm workers are highly aware of the risks around entering silos.

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