The South African Federation of Trade Unions (SAFTU) is utterly disgusted that yet again, the security forces stand accused of the brutal murder of a young, innocent child with Down Syndrome disabilities in Eldorado Park, Johannesburg.
There was no reason whatsoever for the police to draw out their guns and shoot and kill, in cold blood, a child – the well known and loved Nathaniel Julius, aged 16 – who was not a threat to anyone’s life. He was simply eating a biscuit last Wednesday, and had been excited by police sirens when running from his house to the sidewalk.
The police lied and claimed he was caught in gang violence cross-fire, a fib enough witnesses could disprove that two police were arrested by the Independent Police Investigative Directorate for Nathaniel’s murder last Friday.
Eldorado Park residents have protested against the government’s inattention to their housing and service needs for decades. Indeed, the first known post-apartheid police shootings of community demonstrators – leaving four protesters dead – occurred in February 1997 in this same impoverished neighbourhood, on the south side of Johannesburg.
This forms part of a disturbing pattern. It demonstrates that police forces have not yet been transformed into a service, but retain apartheid-era repressive machinery and attitudes: skeet en donnor!
Black lives matter!
Security forces in this, the most unequal city in the world and the most unequal country in terms of income, seem to target black and the poor members of the community as easy targets in their power games. This actually represents a form of inferiority complex, a mental slavery.
Most if not all persons murdered by the police and the army are black and poor, killed by mostly black troops. We know of no incident where police and the military used live ammunition and murdered any of residents of Sandton or Stellenbosch.
The cold-blooded and unprovoked murder of Nathaniel is no different than the premeditated massacre of dozens of mineworkers in Marikana at the behest of the ANC leaders and government in 2012, the cold-blooded murder of Andries Tatane of Ficksburg in 2004, the cruel killing of four residents of Mothotlung just west of Pretoria in 2013, and the recent killing of a dozen black citizens by security forces enforcing the lockdown, including Collins Khosa of Alexandra who was beaten to death by the South African National Defence Force in his own backyard.
We welcome that in the case of the killing of Nathaniel, police officials have been arrested. They are known to the community, and there is little doubt about their guilt. We welcome the decision of the magistrate to deny these police officials bail so that a clear and unequivocal message is sent to all would-be murderers that these types of killings will no longer be tolerated.
SAFTU endorses the statement following Nathaniel’s death, made by Yasmin Sooka, who leads the Foundation for Human Rights: “We have a moral duty and that is to demand the truth. We must demand answers and expect to get only the truth.”
Eldorado Park’s problems are South Africa’s problems, and can’t be shot down and forgotten
SAFTU sends its heartfelt condolences to the family and community of Nathaniel Julius. We wish them strength as they prepare to bury their own, a boy with disabilities but a big heart, one who is our own.
We salute the community of Eldorado Park who, like the black people and non-racial allies in the United States, rose like a Phoenix when George Floyd was killed in Minneapolis, Minnesota on May 25.
We also praise Eldorado Park Housing Task Team activists who have joined up with more than twenty other community organisations in the Gauteng Housing Crisis Committee to put forward not only criticisms but real solutions for the working class. They engage in land occupations and plant vegetable gardens, knowing that the current government is simply unwilling to respect their constitutional rights which include housing, land, water and nutrition.
And we call on members of SAFTU, all workers and all progressive community groups to pledge solidarity with the family of Nathaniel Julius by attending the next appearance of the two police in numbers on September 10, and protest to demand justice of Nathaniel Julius.