The death of a teenager with Downs Syndrome has sparked public outrage across the country after angry community members in Eldorado Park accused police of shooting 16-year-old Nathaniel Julius. Residents took to the street to vent their frustrations where they threw stones and petrol bombs at SAPS and JMPD officers. The horrific scenes unfolded throughout the day, as the family of the slain teenager mourned.
Nathaniel was allegedly shot by an officer who later dumped him at Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital, where he died.
However, a researcher for the Social Justice Coalition, Khadija Bawa explained this is not an isolated case.
“There are striking similarities between policing in the United States and in South Africa, in America the policing system is a relic of slave patrols and in our country the policing system is a relic of the apartheid government and how they would use police to implement its vicious and oppressive system of racial discrimination,” stated Bawa.
Bawa stated not only are there historic similarities but also the present culture of both countries that exist.
“Both of them hold onto this hyper-masculinity and the protection of white supremacy over the value of black lives and it is unfortunate but is true that black lives are seen as indispensable,” said Bawa.
Speaking on the brutal killing of Julius, Bawa explained whether the situation in Eldorado park was, in fact, volatile or not it did not give that police officer the right to shoot at anyone. Bawa said the Social Justice Coalition along with the Khayelitsha Community Action Network is calling for the abolishment of Law Enforcement.
“Your job is to investigate crime, your job is to fill out dockets to accumulate all the evidence and present it to a prosecutor that is your job. Your job is not to go into a community armed with riot gear, stun grenades and rubber bullets and that is not the policing that communities need,” detailed Bawa.
Two police officers from Eldorado Park police station have been arrested and charged with the murder of Nathaniel. They also face charges of being in possession of prohibited ammunition and defeating the ends of justice. The matter is now in the hands of the Independent Police Investigative Directorate.
However, Bawa stated IPID is not a ‘purely independent body’ as they are linked to the National Minister of Police.
“It’s almost if communities have to go up in arms to get a response either from IPID or the Minister of police or even outrage and support from the rest of the country and that’s completely unacceptable,” said Bawa.
The two suspects have been charged with murder, discharging of a firearm in a public place, being in possession of prohibited ammunition and defeating the ends of justice. They have been remanded in custody. The Magistrate has advised both accused to secure legal representatives before the next court date, which is 10 September 2020.
“It isn’t fair that we only get justice if there is an outcry from the nation,” added Bawa.