Teenager Lockie was allegedly shot at point-blank range in the chest. Minutes later, the police had loaded his corpse into their van and sped of
The police shot his grandson dead, threw him into the back of a police van and then dropped him off at a hospital like a piece of trash.
So said James Julies (69), the grandfather of the mentally handicapped Nathaniel “Lockie” Julies, who was allegedly murdered in cold blood by police in Eldorado Park, south of Johannesburg, this week.
The shooting of the 16-year-old Nathaniel sparked national outrage and has also made international headlines.
President Cyril Ramaphosa on Friday expressed his sympathy with the family, and Police Minister Bheki Cele visited the family on the same day.
On Thursday, furious residents protested outside Eldorado Park Police Station.
Nathaniel was shot on Wednesday night while standing outside his home. He had left the house after dinner and a neighbour had bought him cookies from a spaza shop nearby.
When City Press’ sister publication Rapport visited the family at their home yesterday, they had already done more than 25 media interviews.
“All the police cared about was cleaning the scene of the crime as quickly as possible,” said James.
“They pulled Lockie out from under a truck after shooting him, threw him into the police van and then dropped him off at Baragwanath Hospital.
“According to the security officials at the hospital, the police just told them that Lockie had been shot dead in a gang shoot-out, and then they sped away.”
James said he simply didn’t understand how the police officer could have shot Nathaniel.
“When the policeman looked at this little one in the eyes … what did he think?
“Lockie was an innocent child and he was everyone’s mate. He was always cheerful. But he didn’t fit into your world, you had to fit into his.”
Clint Smith, Nathaniel’s stepfather, said the police removed Nathaniel’s body from the scene in minutes.
“A single shot went off near our house. When we walked out of the house to investigate, an eyewitness told us that the police had shot Nathaniel. We ran to the scene, which was just metres from our house. When we got there, the police had already sped off with him.”
Smit said eyewitnesses told him that Nathaniel was already dead when the police loaded him into their van.
He said eyewitnesses said they saw the police officials asking Nathaniel questions before the incident. But the officials couldn’t understand him because he had Down syndrome. They then left in their vehicle, but later returned. A police officer allegedly got out of the vehicle and shot him in the chest.
Nathaniel’s mother, Bridget Harris, said she couldn’t understand why the police didn’t just send him home.
“Why didn’t they ask him where his mother and father were and send him home?”
Harris said she was glad that the two police officers involved in the murder were arrested on Friday.
“We welcome the news, but, unfortunately, that’s not going to bring my child back.”
Nathaniel was the third of eight children.
Harris said he held a “very special place in my heart”.
“It wasn’t sunshine and roses bringing him up, but we had more good times than bad. He was often ill and we spent a lot of time in the hospital. He taught me what true love and acceptance mean.”
James said the family appreciated government’s interest and messages of condolences, but they did not want government involved in Nathaniel’s funeral.
“We don’t want them to steal the spotlight,” he said.
Ndileka Cola, spokesperson for the Independent Police Investigative Directorate, said their preliminary report indicated that the crime scene had been tampered with.
She said two police officials from Eldorado Park’s crime prevention unit had been arrested in connection with the murder. Cola said their details would be released as soon as they had appeared in the Protea Magistrates’ Court.