A memorial service has been held for Nathaniel Julies in Eldorado Park, south of Johannesburg. 16-year-old Julies was shot dead allegedly by the police on Wednesday last week.
The killing of the teenager sparked unrest in the community with residents calling for justice for Julies, who had Down Syndrome.
Thursday’s memorial service took place on the day that a third suspect appeared in the Protea Magistrates Court in connection with the murder of Julies.
The suspect joins two other Eldorado Park police officers that have been arrested and charged with the murder. The trio is due to appear in court again on Thursday next week.
The Eldorado Park community was in a sombre mood, still reeling over the death of Julies. Residents gathered in the local Square to remember the teenager.
In front of the seated crowd laid a drawing of the 16-year-old. Julies, known as Loki, in the community, was fondly remembered by residents. Those close to him used the night to relay their memories of him.
Community member, Astrid Harrison says that Julies’ death is a big loss for the community.
“All of us here, all over the world as well have become poorer because an innocent has been taken away from us. Nathaniel managed to do one thing that so many have refused or was unable to do, he brought us all together as a coloured community. Nathaniel absolutely loved to dance, that was his thing he just loved to dance and he didn’t even need music, so if he wanted to dance he’d just whip out a dance and do it.”
Bishop Marcus Jacobs has called for a change in the community after Julies’ passing. Jacobs says the use of drugs in the area poses a threat to the safety of children.
“I want to say for too long the devil has destroyed the lives of our young people in Eldorado park, too long he’s come to kill our children in Eldorado Park, too long he’s come to destroy the community of Eldorado Park, but tonight we want to give the devil notice in great Eldorado Park. We must put value in Nathaniel’s life. Drug lords must shut down, shebeen kings and queens they must leave Eldorado Park. These things are creating problems, the children must now give up their lives for the problem that is rising in greater Eldorado Park. Eldorado Park can be a safe place even for little children like Nathaniel. To the South African police, have compassion for our people. We are sick and tired of death all around us.”
‘I am from a powerful race’
Julies’ killing has thrust the plight of marginalised communities into the spotlight. In remembering Julies, Grade 11 learner, Candice Khumalo called for equality in these communities.
“ Yes, I am coloured. Yes, I am brown. You don’t just fear me as a person, you fear my voice. You fear my courage, you fear my brown and diverse skin. Tell me I am ruthless. Tell me I’m from a drug-infested community. A rape society. My darling doesn’t assume these things, I am from a powerful race. I am outspoken. You don’t just fear me as a person, you fear my capabilities, you fear my talent. You fear my brown and diverse skin. Yes, I am coloured, yes I am proud, I am a definition of a rainbow nation. Nathaniel was coloured, he was proud. Say this name Nathaniel Julies, let it echo in every corner around the world. I am 16. I am coloured. Nathaniel was 16, he was coloured .”
The call from the community is the same, an end to police brutality and for the protection of children in the community.
The community say it’s time for them to stand together. They also say they came in their numbers to support the family and to send the message to the perpetrators and the police that as a community they will not stand for police brutality and they stand together with the coloured community and with Eldorado park in fighting for justice for Nathaniel.
Community member, Aphile Carter, has praised Eldorado residents for uniting to demand justice after the killing of Julies.
“I feel like it’s the duty of the community to stand together in times like these. So we came here in numbers to support the family and to send the message to the perpetrators and the police that we as a community will not stand for police brutality and we stand together with the coloured community and with Eldorado park in fighting for justice for Nathaniel.”
Julies will be laid to rest on Saturday.