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Johannesburg - Thabang Ntuli turned 27 two weeks ago. A fact his mother, Sabelo, can’t get over.
The young man met his death in the early hours of Wednesday during a protest in Meadowlands, Soweto.
Mzimhlophe hostel residents had embarked on a protest on Tuesday, demanding houses.
Police spokesman Warrant Officer Kay Makhubela said no arrest had been made in connection with his murder.
He said protesters had started to loot shops belonging to foreign nationals when the shooting happened.
When police arrived, the protesters threw stones at them.
“One of the police vehicles was damaged. We managed to keep order and escort foreigners out of the area with their goods,” said Makhubela.
He said a case of murder and malicious damage to property had been opened.
Speaking to The Star on Wednesday, tears welled up in Thabang’s mother’s eyes and she struggled to breathe as she tried to describe her loss.
“I am pained. He was my son. Whenever I needed help he was there for me,” Sabelo Ntuli said.
The news failed to sink in for the rest of the family as well. Ntuli, her sister Duduzile Ndebele and other relatives sat on a mattress in one of the candlelit bedrooms, mourning.
Even though it had been only hours since Thabang’s death, the undertakers had already arrived and spoken to the family about the funeral arrangements.
“When she heard the news at around 1am, she fainted,” said Sabelo’s younger sister, Fikile Khumalo.
Khumalo said the death of her nephew came as a shock to the family as they believed he had no role in the protest.
“He was walking back home to fetch his younger brother, Njabulo, when he was shot.
“People say it was one of the foreign shopkeepers who did it,” she claimed.
Khumalo said the residents of the Mzimhlophe hostel had been protesting since Tuesday morning about poor service delivery.
“There were many people on the road. It was busy.
“Thabang was just walking in the road; he wasn’t running or anything,” said a weeping Khumalo.
He was shot in the side of his chest and fell down.
She said he was removed from the street and placed on the pavement.
A few minutes later he died from internal bleeding.
Khumalo said the family were having a hard time coping as the incident was still so recent.
“He was a sweet boy, everyone liked him. He was humble and was always joking around,” she said.
Residents said they were protesting for better services. They wanted their community cleaned up.
“We need tarred roads, and other people in the hostels don’t have proper toilets and have to relieve themselves in the bushes,” said Khumalo.
The Ntuli family said the funeral arrangements had not yet been finalised.