St Helena Bay residents are demanding justice for Leo Williams, who was shot by a stray bullet reportedly fired by a police officer on 31 July 2020. Williams was indoors at the time.
At the time, a resident said the close-knit Laingburg community was traumatised by the fact a “young innocent child that wasn’t even in the street got so hurt he is basically fighting for his life”.
Leo Williams’ killing
Williams was fighting for his life at the Red Cross Children’s Hospital in Cape Town. Doctors feared that removing the bullet would result in brain damage or put his life in serious jeopardy.
His family told reporters that the nine-year-old was “fighting with everything he had”. However, Williams succumbed to his injuries two weeks later. Laingsburg residents believe someone should take responsibility for his death.
Back in August, community leader and spokesperson for the Williams’ family, Thyrone Williams, said the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) would be investigating “death as a result of police action”.
Laingsburg residents held a peaceful demonstration on Saturday 5 September 2020 and handed over a memorandum to SAPS, demanding justice. Williams’ father showed reporters the bullet holes in corrugated iron walls.
It was reported at the time that shots were fired during a service delivery protest in Laingsburg. However, Thyrone Williams told SABC News that “Leo was sitting inside watching TV with his uncle”.
“The [protesting] community members were already far away. There is no way our community members were involved in the shooting because the police are accusing our community, saying our members were shooting at Leo”.
He added that it’s “all the police” and that community members vowed to “deal with police decisively”.
Laingsburg community memorandum
Thyrone said on Saturday that the community is calling for the station commander to step down. Residents also demanded answers following IPID’s “slow pace of the investigation”.
“We asked the community today to try their utmost best to remain calm because this community don’t want silence anymore; they want action. […] One of the demands in the memorandum is that the community does not want the station commander anymore”.
The Laingsburg community also noted that no arrests have been made and has now given authorities seven days to respond to the memorandum.
Nathaniel Julies’ funeral
In a separate incident, 16-year-old Nathaniel Julies was shot by police when they opened fire on gangsters in Eldorado Park. Julies was laid to rest on Saturday 5 September 2020.
Two officers have been charged with murder, discharging a firearm in a public space, unlawful possession of ammunition and defeating the ends of justice. The case against a third officer has been postponed.