One state witness is a no-show as Julies killer cops’ trial resumes

A warrant of arrest has been issued for an eyewitness in the Nathaniel Julies murder trial

The 16-year-old, who had Down syndrome, was shot and killed during a confrontation between gang members and police in Eldorado Park in August 2020. 

According to the state, 21-year-old Thaheera Kaldine disappeared this weekend and has not returned home despite a subpoena to take the stand on Tuesday.

Kaldine was standing across the road outside her front gate when Julies was shot metres away. Her mother, Tasneem Kaldine, was the state’s first witness to testify and recalled the events of 26 August last year when she heard a loud bang and rushed out to investigate. 

She explained how her daughter was outside when Julies was gunned down. 

Kaldine described a scene that was brightly lit enough for her to have witnessed a police officer pulling Julies’ body from underneath a broken-down truck.

The ammunition used to shoot Julies was banned by the South African Police Service (SAPS) in 2014, according to the state. 

The state will argue that police confronted a group of young people who were loitering outside after a Covid-19 curfew had expired before Julies, a bystander, was shot.

Julies’ mother has previously said that he went to the spaza shop next door just before 9pm to buy a pack of biscuits, part of his evening routine. He was killed moments later, shoved into the back of a police van and taken to the Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital in Soweto, where he was pronounced dead. 

The alleged shooter and accused number one in the case, Caylene Whiteboy, is a junior reservist who had graduated from college less than a year before the shooting. 

Whiteboy blew the whistle on her seniors, Vorster Netshiongolo and Simon Ndyalvane, when she opposed their version of events, which included that Julies was killed in a shootout between police and suspects in possession of stolen car parts at the nearby Hillbrow Flats in the area.  

In her bail application she alleged that Ndyalvane had threatened her life if she did not support her superiors’ version of events. She also submitted to the Protea magistrate’s court that she fired the shot that killed Julies, but claimed this was at the instruction of the  head of public order policing, Sergeant Ndyalvane. 

Whiteboy claims that she fired the same shotgun hours earlier in nearby Freedom Park, where she dispersed a crowd violating Covid-19 lockdown regulations. In that incident, though, the same gun was loaded with rubber, and not the banned ammunition loaded when she fired at Julies. 

On Monday Ndyalvane’s lawyer advocate Mandla Mnyatheli asked the state’s witness to describe her lived experience in Eldorado Park, to which Kaldine explained that drugs and petty crime were a challenge. 

However Mnyatheli put it to her that the area was not characterised by “petty” crimes but more serious issues that had even prompted President Jacob Zuma’s intervention in 2013.

Zuma’s intervention was sparked by a widely publicised letter from mothers who pleaded for intervention to help their drug-addicted children. In the 90s, Eldorado Park was also troubled by violent rivalry between Westbury gangsters and the infamous ‘Majimbos’ in the area. 

Judge Ramarumo Monama told the defence lawyer that his questions would not be admitted, but disqualified on the basis that he was asking the witness to profile the area.

“Coloured townships are like this, black townships are like that,” Monama said in his admonition.

Stereotype profiling has a history that is not limited to the trial underway in the Johannesburg high court. 

Protests over Julies’ death in Eldorado Park attracted the attention of Gauteng Premier David Makhura and the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid), which under normal circumstances should have been called the moment Julies was killed “as a result of police action”. 

Both Makhura and Ipid told the public that the police report indicated Julies was killed in gang-related crossfire, but scores of witnesses at the scene of his death told reporters that it was an extraordinarily quiet night and only a single shot was heard before police sped off with Julies’ body in the back of the van. 

Protestors also explained how there had been a public outcry in the area over government and law enforcement buying into stereotypes about townships like Eldorado Park. 

The Hillbrow Flats were affected by drug abuse, several people in the area said on the anniversary of Julies’ death in August, but it had been decades since gangsterism had affected their lives. 

The case has seen numerous delays over the last year. On Tuesday the state called a detective who was present in the vehicle when Julies was killed. 

Judge Monama has set out 20 days to hear the matter. 

Tunicia Phillips is an Adamela Trust climate and economic justice reporting fellow, funded by the Open Society Foundation for South Africa

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Tunicia Phillips
Tunicia Phillips is an investigative, award-winning journalist who has worked in broadcast for 10 years. Her beats span across crime, court politics, mining energy and social justice. She has recently returned to print at the M&G working under the Adamela Trust to specialise in climate change and environmental reporting.

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