By Tunicia Jegels and Shona Bhur
Eldorado Park residents are celebrating a small victory after the Protea Magistrate’s Court remanded two police officers in custody until their next appearance.
The area was rocked by protests last week after 16 year – old Nathaniel Julies – who suffered with Down Syndrome – was shot and killed after being confronted by police
. Community activists and family friends chanted outside the court where office’s Caylene Witbooi and Scorpyons Simons were officially charged with premeditated murder, possession of prohibited ammunition, firing an arm in public and defeating the ends of justice for tampering with evidence.
Supporting community members at the court, Reverend Larry Varnie told KayaFM News that the court outcome of the matter was a relief and will ensure that the officers do not interfere with the ongoing investigation. Reading the items on the state prosecutors charge sheet, Magistrate Malasela Mhango told the pair the charges carry the possibility of life in prison. The matter has been postponed to next week Thursday, September 03.
Office’s Witbooi and Simons were arrested by the Independent Police Directorate on Friday, August 28 shortly after both government officials and IPID head Jeniffer Ntlatseng indicated that their reports from police were contradictory to eyewitness claims that Julies was shot after hiding behind a truck when the blue lights approached him. Government departments said that Julies was shot and killed during a cross fire while the officers were pursuing suspects for stolen car parts. But, several residents and eye witnesses have refuted this, adding that the Hillbrow Flats has not experienced gang violence in over ten years. Residents there also claim to have heard only one gun shot on the night Julies was killed.
The senseless killing has prompted widespread condemnation from human rights groups. The Socio-Economic Rights Institute of South Africa (SERI) said that the incident is another indication that law enforcement have learnt nothing from the 2012 Marikana massacre that saw 34 striking miners gunned down police in Marikana, North West.