Sibusiso Emanuel Tshabalala put his cleanly shaven head in his hands and wept during his bail application in the Lenasia magistrate’s court . Tshabalala fatally shot his son on Tuesday night.
His wife, Sibongile Tshabalala, who was sitting in the first row of Courtroom three, stood up and went into the dock where the couple wept together.
As the clicking of the cameras grew louder, so did their weeping.
“Luyanda, my child,” she said with tears streaming down her face as she held on to her husband while stroking his head.
Tshabalala’s younger brother, Bafana, who was also in court, rested his elbows on his knees. He wiped away his tears as he stared at the courtroom floor.
Tshabalala is facing a murder charge after he shot and killed Luyanda Themba Tshabalala in what he says was a freak accident. He apparently told his wife that he thought he was being hijacked on Tuesday night.
No previous charges
The father appeared briefly before Magistrate Maggie van der Merwe in a packed courtroom shortly after 12:00.
He was initially meant to appear at the Protea Magistrate’s Court but the matter was referred to Lenasia. It was also meant to be a first appearance but was changed to a bail application.
Van der Merwe explained that even though he had a lawyer in court, all evidence that he submitted during the bail application could be used against him in the trial.
She also explained that if he had any previous charges he needed to tell the court.
Tshabalala’s defence lawyer Chwewe Machaka said he was ready to proceed with a bail application.
“This is the first incident and a painful one.”
Employed as security officer
Machaka then read from Tshabalala’s affidavit.
“I have been advised that the offence with which I am faced falls under schedule five. At this stage I do not know the basis that the state is opposing this bail apart from the schedule five offence.
“I am 51-years-[old],” he said
Machaka read out that his client was born in Qwaqwa and that he was a security officer for the police.
Tshabalala’s other children are aged 13, 9 and the youngest is in Grade 1.
According to the affidavit, Tshabalala’s wife is unemployed and his family depends on him.
‘It will haunt me for the rest of my life’
“I was arrested on June 6 after I handed myself over to the police. On the day in question I took my son, the deceased, to school at around 16:00 for his extra lessons. After dropping him off at school I left to my house and came back shortly before 19:00. As I was tired, my licensed firearm was on my waist … when I heard the noise, I thought I was being hijacked, I drew the firearm and I realised it was my son when he said, ‘Daddy, it’s me.'”
After the shooting he bundled the boy into the back seat to get to the nearest hospital. Luyanda was declared dead at the hospital.
“What happened on this particular day will haunt me for the rest of my life … It is in the interests of this court to release me so that I can go and bury my son in dignity.”
Van der Merwe remanded the matter until the July 24.
She released Tshabalala on a warning, so that he could bury his son.
“I have taken into account that he has additional costs for a funeral and I think that the interests of justice will be best served if the applicant is released on warning with no amount to pay,” Van der Merwe said.
‘I shot the child by mistake’
“I can only describe this incident as a tragedy, and judging from the applicant’s display of emotions and the family’s presence, it is an incident that will impact the applicant and the family for the rest of their lives,” she added.
On Wednesday afternoon News24 visited Luyanda’s family home and spoke to his stepmother, Sibongile. She had a red scarf tied around her chest as a sign of mourning.
Sibongile recounted her husband’s words when he returned home without Luyanda on Tuesday night.
“I shot the child by mistake, I thought I was being hijacked,” he told her.
“Earlier, he told his father that there were evening classes and asked him to please take him. So, as he always did, his dad took him to school and then came back home,” said Sibongile.
At around 20:00, because Luyanda had said they would be done by that time, his father returned to the school to fetch him.
3 missed calls from Luyanda
“When he got there, he parked inside the Fred Norman Secondary [School] premises and waited. While he was waiting, he fell asleep because he had returned from working on a construction site, so he was tired. He fell asleep.”
Tshabalala said Luyanda had called his father while he was asleep in the car.
“My husband said he had found three missed calls from Luyanda. He did not hear the phone.”
Luyanda recognised his father’s vehicle and headed towards it.
“When he got to the car, he tried to open the door, but his father had locked the car. He couldn’t open the car, so then he began shaking it. When my husband woke up, he saw someone who looked like he was trying to hijack him, so he got a fright and reached for his gun.” — News 24