NEXT door to the teenager’s home is a corner shop stocked with supplies – milk, bread, sweets and chocolates, cans of food, cooldrinks, tins of coffee. And the biscuits the boy loved so much: a little packet of three to four shortbread cookies that sold for R1.
Nathaniel Julies often walked to the shop to buy his biscuits, a source of pleasure for the teen who had many challenges in life.
He had Down syndrome and according to his mom, Bridget, he was often ill and spent a lot of time in hospital.
But ask anyone in Eldorado Park, Johannesburg, about Nathaniel and they’ll tell you about a “sunshine child” with an innocent smile who’d captured the heart of the community.
Now the boy everyone loved is gone, his life snuffed out by a bullet – allegedly from a policeman’s gun – one night as he leaned against a truck, eating his favourite biscuits.
Nathaniel’s death has sparked fury in Eldorado Park, an area plagued by gangsterism and crime. What exactly went down that night has yet to be determined but witnesses all tell a similar story: Nathaniel did nothing to provoke the cops.
Some reports claim the police believed the truck the teen was leaning against contained stolen parts and that he’d failed to respond when questioned.
Gauteng premier David Makhura released a statement saying the boy had been caught in crossfire between police and gang members but witnesses say there was no shooting – just a single shot, then Nathaniel crumpled to the ground.
They say police tossed the 16-year-old’s body into the back of a police van and dropped it offat the hospital “like trash”.
The shooting sparked clashes between residents and police and triggered a march to the local police station, where members of the community – some of them disabled – chanted, “Enough is enough.”
Protests were also held in Cape Town and the killing made international headlines.
For Nathaniel’s grandfather James Julies life will never be the same again.
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