Antwerp provincial governor Cathy Berx (CD&V) has spoken about the reaction of her son to the revelations about the student club Reuzegom, which was involved in an initiation rite in which a student died.
Berx’s son Joachim Meeusen was a member of the same club, and was friendly with the young man who died, 20-year-old Sanda Dia.
In an interview with Humo magazine, Berx explained how her son was a club member, but was not present at the initiation ceremony for new members, which took place in Vorselaar in Antwerp province, although the organisers involved were students at Leuven. Meeusen, she said, was on an internship abroad at the time of the events.
Sanda Dia died after he drank a large quantity of fish oil on top of alcohol, which caused a dramatic increase in the salt levels in his blood, leading to a swelling in the brain.
He passed out, and was taken to hospital by other students present, but died later.
Meeusen and Dia knew each other previously as members of the same football club, Berx said. She herself broke the news to her son.
“Joachim came home at top speed, completely devastated,” Berx told Humo.
“He made a contribution to a floral tribute at Sanda’s grave. He later also came from Paris to attend the funeral, and played in the memorial [football] match. Sanda’s obituary is still standing next to his bed.”
And she described how she and her husband – Johan Meeusen, a professor at the University of Antwerp spoke extensively with their son about why he wanted to join Reuzegom in the first place. The club is known as an elite club with a tendency to excess, and its initiation rites are known to be harsh.
“We still don’t understand,” she said. “But Joachim belongs to a different generation. He makes his own choices. What happened to Sanda could have happened to him too. That’s what I say to him now: ‘It could just as easily have been you.’”