Church hymns blast from the huge speakers in a van that makes its way slowly down the street.
It’s a warm Sundy afternoon in Eldorado Park and the feeling is almost festive.
A pastor hops from the van and begins to clap and sing. Then the music is interrupted by a group of young people on scooters, revving to make the crowds scream with excitement.
Well known car spinner Stacey-Lee May is also here, cruising along with a few other cars.
But there’s nothing celebratory about this day. Everyone is here to join Nathaniel Julies’ family in a peaceful march.
The 16-year-old was shot and killed, allegedly by two police officers NAMES, and family, friends, neigbours and neighbouring communities have joined the march to the Eldorado Park police station.
They want justice for the young man with Downs Syndrome who lost his life, allegedly at the hands of those meant to protect him.
People riding on their wheelchairs maneuver between the cars as they join the walking marchers. The air is filled with excitement, different chants, chatter and cameras everywhere taking in all the action.
A loudspeaker interrupts the noise to ask the crowd to settle down as the family absorbs the support and love shown by everyone while addressing the media and hundreds of supports.
In Cape Town, supporters of the family’s call for justice attached posters and pictures of Nathaniel on the gates of Parliament, in solidarity with Eldorado Park march.
Nathaniel, who had Down’s Syndrome, was shot dead in Eldorado Park on Wednesday. According to reports, he allegedly failed to respond to police questioning.
His family said he was at a tuck shop buying biscuits. He was reportedly loaded into the back of a police van, where he died.
After Nathaniel’s death, Gauteng Premiere David Makura released a statement saying that the teenager had been caught in crossfire between suspected gang members and police.
But fed-up residents say that version is not true. “Several children here witnessed that incident and know that Nathaniel was not armed and was not a violent boy,” said one community member who did not want to be named.
The residents insist Nathaniel was shot by police when he did not respond to their questions.
What happened to Nathaniel could have easily happened to her deaf sibling, says resident Rikaya Jacobs. “The same thing could happen to my brother. If you were to ask him anything he would not respond because he is deaf, and the police could easily shoot him too.”
She said police needed to be aware that some people have disabilities. “They can’t just go around shooting people not knowing their conditions.”
Marcelle Daniels of the Caitlin Douman Foundation, an organisation which advocates for the rights of the disabled, was also at the march. “This case is very close to me because he was a disabled child and I am a mother of a disabled child. The family have not been coping. They have not been able to mourn or grieve properly with everything that is going on, especially because they have not being given any clarity about what really happened to their son.”
The marchers gave a memorandum to police demanding to be kept updated about the case.
leader Glen Taaibosch said they wanted to help the family in any way they
could, including with the funeral and legal arrangements.
“We want to ensure that Nathaniel gets a beautiful send-off as an angel. We want to make sure that the lawyers that are appointed to this case are people we can trust. Many people are making promises and donations, but we want to ensure that we coordinate this properly, and that the family is okay.”