Frustration mounted in the Johannesburg high court on Friday where the pre-trial for the death of 16-year-old Nathaniel Julies in August last year was due to get underway.
Nathaniel was living with Down syndrome when he was gunned down only metres away from his front gate during lockdown level two. It was not unusual for Nathaniel to walk to a nearby spaza shop to buy biscuits in the evening, according to his mother Brudgette Harris.
Harris cried during proceedings when it became evident that the pre-trial would be delayed for a third time.
The murder case against the Eldorado Park police officers — Caylene Whiteboy, Simon Scorpyon Ndyalvane and Foster Netshiongolo — was delayed by the defence’s poor preparation.
The high court heard how Ndyalvane’s lawyer was still dealing with unresolved matters pertaining to the state’s evidence. Judge Majake Mabesele ordered a 30-minute break for Ndyalvane to consult his lawyer regarding his plea and finalise his case before threatening to give the trial date — set for 4 to 29 October — to another case.
Ndyalvane and Whiteboy are accused of premeditated murder, defeating the ends of justice, possession of illegal ammunition and firing a gun in public.
Netshiongolo is charged with accessory to murder after the fact and defeating the ends of justice. He was granted bail based on new evidence in the Protea magistrate’s court in November last year, after the three had earlier been denied bail.
Netshiongolo allegedly only showed up at the scene after Nathaniel was killed and driven in a police van to Baragwanath hospital with a chest riddled with pellets.
The ammunition allegedly used is banned for use by the police. The state is expected to argue that Ndyalvane loaded a police issued shotgun with illegal ammunition allegedly belonging to him.
On Thursday next week, Ndyalvane — the most senior officer present when Nathaniel was killed — will reapply for bail based on new evidence.
Whiteboy, 23, who graduated less than a year before Nathaniel’ death, is believed to be under witness protection. In her affidavit to the Protea magistrate’s court, Whiteboy said she was instructed by her senior, Ndyalvane, to fire the gun that killed Nathaniel.
She further claimed she had received threats from Ndyalvane. He was denied bail based on this and the risk that he may interfere with witnesses and the investigation.
Outside the court Nathaniel’s mother continued to shed tears as she lamented the delays that have plagued the case since the beginning.
“It only takes one minute to kill a person but when you come here all you have are delays and more delays. For a mother like myself in this position it’s not easy to lose someone so close to you,” she said.
Absent from proceedings was Nathaniel’s grandfather James Julies, who died in May. He had complained of the severity of the effect of his grandson’s death on his family and his health.
On Friday, Nathaniel’s family was flanked by ActionSA’s John Moodey and a few activists; the civil society groups and political parties that have been at the court for several months were absent.
Moody said outside courtroom six that the defence was using tactics to delay the trial. But the National Prosecuting Authority’s Phindi Mjonondwane emphasised that the accused had a legal right to reapply for bail based on new evidence.