On Wednesday evening 26 August 2020, Nathaniel Julius (16), affectionately known as Lokkie had just finished dinner and went outside to play with his friends. Minutes later he would be dead, shot in the chest, and thrown in the back of a police vehicle in Eldorado Park.

On Thursday members of the community and friends of the family went to the police station to protest and enquire about the murder. A conflict between the police and the community then erupted, in which several people were shot by the police.

Eyewitnesses said some of the boys playing nearby wanted to take Nathaniel’s biscuits, so he ran to hide behind a truck. A police vehicle approached Nathaniel, and a policeman asked Nathaniel what he was doing there. Because he had Down syndrome, he probably could not provide the police with a coherent explanation. 

Eyewitness accounts claim a policeman got out of his car, walked towards Nathaniel, and shot him point blank in the chest. 

“When we heard the shot here we thought it was crackers,” said Nathaniel’s step-father, Clint Smith. 

When Clint went outside to see what had happened, one of his friends ran past and told him they had shot Nathaniel. 

Shocked Clint ran inside to call Nathaniel’s mother and they ran to the scene. En route to the scene, a police vehicle was seen speeding past them. 

“My son was already in the police van. They just threw him in the back of the van.”

In an emotional testimony to the media on Thursday, the grieving mother and step-father of 16-year-old Nathaniel gave their version of events that took place.

Interview with Nathaniel’s mother – Bridget Harris

According to a family friend, Lizell Ponsonby, there were two police vans, one with Nathaniel in it, and the other colleagues of the police officer that shot Nathaniel. Ponsonby said she stopped the first van to ask where they were taking Nathaniel. 

A police officer told her “Bara”, and then “fire station”, which Ponsonby believes was intentionally misleading so that police had enough time to take Nathaniel to Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital without the family present. 

Nathaniel Julius – The disabled boy murdered by the South African Police

Nathaniel was taken to hospital by police, where doctors pronounced him dead on arrival. 

According to Ponsonby, who spoke to the doctors at the hospital, the police officers said Nathaniel was shot in a gang fight.

According to her, police simply dropped him off at the hospital and drove away. 

“They’re trying to hide the fact, that Nathaniel was still alive. The doctor told me there was nothing they could do for him, and that police just dropped him off at the hospital, said he was in a gang fight, and left,” she explained. 

The family is seeking justice – she said

Arrests made for the Murder

Read more: Third police officer arrested.

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