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The Last Right

The Last Right

Craig Schonegevel’s Struggle to Live and Die with DignityMarianne Thamm

First published by Jacana Media (Pty) Ltd in 2013

10 Orange Street


Auckland Park 2092

South Africa

+2711 628 3200


© Neville Schonegevel Family Trust, 2013

All rights reserved.

ISBN 978-1-4314-0762-0

d-PDF ISBN 978-1- 4314-0763-7

e-PUB ISBN 978-1-4314-0764-4

mobi ISBN 978-1-4314-0765-1

Cover design by publicide

Cover photographs by Sandy Coffey

Set in Ehrhardt MT 11.5/15.5pt and Frutiger 9.5/15.5pt

Printed and bound by Mega Digital (Pty) Ltd., Cape Town

Job no. 001979

See a complete list of Jacana titles at www.jacana.co.za

To Mom, Dad, George Irvine, Sandy Coffey, Quinton Gilbertson,

Uncle Brian, Nana, Tony and Es


To all those people suffering with NF1




Preface: The End


1 The Beginning

2 Patsy: Life with Craig

3 Neville: The Journey Begins

4 Ethel: The Drawer under the Bed

5 Who Am I?

6 Overcoming Obstacles

7 Deciding to End It

8 Why?

9 My Son

10 Loose Ends

11 George Irvine: Sacred Turf – Encountering a Mystery

12 Sandy Coffey: Bosnia or Mauritius

13 Not Quite Yet

14 Craig: In His Own Words

15 Ethel: Go with My Blessing

16 Sarah: My Second Son

17 Surviving Craig




1 What is Neurofibromatosis?

2 The Law

3 Legal Reform and Clarity

Part One


The End

Taking my own life has been totally my decision and an act I have planned and carried out by myself. I am of sound mind and have always been.

There are a number of people who will confirm this. The wait for Dignitas has become too much for me. They have not treated my parents and me in a dignified manner. Not once in the past six months have I doubted this to be my “way”. My counsellor will confirm this.

Neurofibromatosis has raped me physically and mentally for almost 29 years. This disease as well as my complications with adhesions has become too much for me. I am tired of fighting. Even the strongest of soldiers grow weak.

I want with all my heart and soul, with every fibre of my being, to be at peaceful, constant sleep. I want to go to a better place now. I have lived in my own personal hell for all of my life. I have so many blessings that I am so immensely grateful for, but the time has come for me to go to a better place.

I ask people to read my book, my story, when it is published. It will show my heart, love and how I fought.

I will wait anxiously Above for my loved ones.

If, for some reason, my suicide attempt is unsuccessful, I do not give consent to be booked into a hospital or psychological institution.

Signed CC Schonegevel

14 August 2009

At 11:40am on the morning of 2 September 2009, Neville Schonegevel made a statement to Sergeant Yolandy Schoeman at his home in Port Elizabeth.

The previous evening, Neville and Patsy Schonegevel’s only son, Craig Carstens, had successfully ended his life in the bedroom of his family home located in a neat townhouse complex in Summerstrand.

Craig was 28 and this was his second attempt at self-deliverance.

The following two-page statement is a reproduction of the handwritten one by Sergeant Schoeman and which was accompanied by two notes from Craig, one written on the evening of 1 September and the other on 14 August, before his first failed attempt.

It is reproduced here verbatim with spelling and grammatical errors. In the interest of privacy, identity numbers and addresses have been edited out.

On 2009/09/01 at about 21:00 my son, Craig Carstens Schonegevel went to his room. Craig closed the bedroom door behind him.

At 22:30 the same day, I went to bed.

On 2009/09/02 at about 6:00, I woke up. I noticed that Craig’s bedroom door was still closed and I went to check on him. I opened the bedroom door and saw Craig lying on his back on the bed.

There was two plastic bags over his head tied close with two elastic bands around his neck. I removed the bags and found a white dust mask over his mouth which I removed. Craig showed no response. I also noticed an empty glass of the bedside cabinet.

I went to call Rev Irvine who counsel Craig and Dr Westensee of Medicross Centre was also contacted.

Rev Irvine counsilled Craig for the pass 6 months. Craig also attempted to commit suicide on August 14, 2009, drinking 49 Dormenock* tablets and Dr Westensee also assisted us. Craig was also treated by Dr Ryno Verster. Dr Verster prescribed the Dormonock for Craig and he used one tablet per day to sleep.

Neville Carstens Schonegevel states further under oath in English.

Craig was diagnosed with Neurofibromatosis type one when he was a year old.

When Dr Westensee arrived, he asked me if I know if Craig took any tablets. I found a empty blister pack of Dominock which holds 10 tablets as well as two empty single blisters in a bin, which was in the left-hand side corner of his bedroom.

Craig also enrolled and was accepted as a member of Dignitas, which is an institution in Switzerland that assist foreigners as well as locals with suicide.

I know and understand the contents of this statement. I have no objection to taking the prescribed oath. I consider the prescribed oath to be binding on my conscience.


NC Schonegevel

Craig’s note was attached to the statement:

This note should be read in conjunction with my suicide note dated 14 August 2009, and I confirm that what was written by me on August 14, 2009, and above suicide note remain valid.

I also record that my Living Will must be adhered to and that my wish is for my life to be terminated.

CC Schonegevel

1 September 2009


“There is only one form of liberation for those who are continually submerged

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