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PoSCC in shock over councillor’s sudden death

Published: 
Monday, November 20, 2017
PNM councillor Darryl Rajpaul greets a Belmont resident during a walk-about in the community last year.

Port-of-Spain Mayor Joel Martinez yesterday paid tribute to Belmont East councillor Darryl Rajpaul, who collapsed and died during a football match in his community on Saturday afternoon.

According to reports, 51-year-old Rajpaul was on the field during an Over-40s match when he collapsed. His team-mates were unable to resuscitate him and he was taken to the Port-of-Spain General Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

An autopsy will be performed on Rajpaul today to determine his cause of death, although it is suspected to be a heart attack.

Rajpaul was in his third term as a Local Government councillor, having been first elected in 2010. His fellow Port-of-Spain City Corporation councillors held an emergency meeting with the CEO yesterday to discuss his death.

Speaking with reporters outside City Hall afterwards, Martinez said they were deeply saddened by his death.

Describing Rajpaul as a avid sportsman, Martinez said: “He was a very vibrant councillor and he looked after sports on the whole. He was the advocate for all sport, especially football.”

Rajpaul, a father of three, was instrumental in organising the corporation’s community football competition, which was scheduled to kick off yesterday, but Martinez and the councillors were unsure if it still would come off due to Rajpaul’s death.

“This is a tremendous shock to us and all the players because they were very close to him and fond of him. It (the competition) was something that was really building very nicely,” Martinez said.

He said they will meet with Rajpaul’s widow to find out how they could assist his family with funeral arrangements.

Martinez also said until a by-election is called, an alderman and Rajpaul’s colleagues have volunteered to share his duties on the council.

“Because we are such a close-knit team, we all know the areas he handled, what the needs were and all the projects that were requested to be done. A number of councillors and an alderman are going to fall into that space and ensure that the needs of the burgesses he served will continue to be met,” Martinez said.

However, the calling of the by-election is not expected to be immediate. The People’s National Movement (PNM) is yet to inform the Elections and Boundaries Commission (EBC) of the date for the by-election to replace Barataria councillor Pernell Bruno, who died in July.

In a press release issued yesterday, Local Government and Rural Development Minister Kazim Hosein expressed condolences to Rajpaul’s family.

“Councillor Rajpaul served with humility, and he remained committed to God and his family in all aspects of his life. His legacy of always bringing people together, and being a strong advocate of peace through sports is one that we must all hold dear and carry on in his memory,” Hosein said.

Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister Stuart Young also used to social media to express condolences to his family.

In a post on his Facebook page with an attached photo of them walking together during an election campaign, Young said: “It is with a heavy heart and a deep sense of pain that I say farewell to one of the hardest working, genuine and supportive elected representatives I have had the privilege of knowing and working with, Councillor Darryl Rajpaul.”