Boy questioned over friend's death
Virginia Keppler, Beeld
Johannesburg - A 12-year-old boy from Eersterust in Pretoria has been questioned by police after his 14-year-old friend was shot dead under strange circumstances.
The victim's grandmother told on Sunday how she had to watch helplessly as he "drew his last breath" on Friday afternoon.
"Reelkey, Reelkey, it's grandma, get up my baby," Poppy Esau called desperately.
Juvaan "Reelkey" Esau, a Grade 7 pupil at the Nantes Primary School in Eersterust, died shortly afterwards on the bathroom floor of his 12-year-old friend's house.
At friend's house
Juvaan's mother, Lolo Esau, 38, said the boys had been alone at the friend's house and had been playing PlayStation.
Shortly afterwards, the younger boy apparently ran into the street with the gun in his hand and shouted that Juvaan had shot himself.
"The child then collapsed," Juvaan's grandmother said.
Juvaan's sisters Wannise and Veronique Esau ran to the house.
"When I got there, Reelkey lay on the ground. Blood was coming out of his mouth, but he was still alive."
"My sister held her hand over his heart and said his heart was still beating. He lay there, breathing loudly and then someone said he was gone," a tearful Wannise recounted.
Juvaan's mother also ran to the scene.
"He looked me in the eye for a moment and then his head fell to one side," said Lolo Esau softly.
"I don’t understand what happened. I don't understand why the weapon had not been locked in a safe."
Got gun from safe
Police spokesperson Warrant Officer Mike Mbewe said the boys had gotten hold of the younger boy's father's firearm, which was in the safe, and had gone to the bathroom with it.
Mbewe said it was not clear what had happened next.
Lolo Esau said her son was a "lovely person who was always willing to help others".
"He was so excited to finish Grade 7 and to go to high school next year."
Juvaan's grandmother said: "That child (the 12-year-old) cried terribly. It is really sad."
Mbewe said the 12-year-old was taken in for questioning and later released in the care of his parents.
Police also confiscated a .38 Special revolver and ammunition.
A case of murder was being investigated but more charges could be added to the case docket.
"We want to remind legal firearm owners to keep safe keys away from children," said Mbewe.
Several community members were upset on Sunday because the owner of the weapon had not been charged.
The Esau family said they would not blame anyone before police had completed their investigation.
"First I want to bury my child so that he can go in peace," said the boy's mother.