Johannesburg - The community of Westbury should come forward with information which could lead to the conviction of the person behind the shooting which occurred in the area at the weekend, Gauteng community safety MEC Sizakele Nkosi-Malobane said on Tuesday.
“We request the community to come forward and testify and tell the truth,” Nkosi-Malobane said.
“No one will intimidate you. If they need security, we will provide it,” she said.
Nkosi-Malobane was speaking outside the Newlands Magistrate's Court, also known as the Sophiatown Court, following the appearance of the man implicated in the shooting.
The accused, 24-year-old, Lindray Khakhu, was charged with two counts of attempted murder after a man and toddler were hit by stray bullets in a shooting he was allegedly involved in.
The man was discharged from hospital after being treated for a gunshot wound in the arm.
The boy, three-year-old Luke Tibbetts, was in a critical condition in hospital.
The court heard on Tuesday that these were not the only charges Khakhu faced.
He faced three other charges of attempted murder for a separate incident.
The cases were pending before the High Court, prosecutor Vincent Mochabela told the court.
Khakhu appeared calm and composed as he spoke to the magistrate Koos Pretorius.
Dressed in a blue sweater and red t-shirt, Khakhu told the court that he would be using his own lawyer, Rowen Meth.
Meth was not in court when proceedings started and he ploughed his way through the packed courtroom where the public filled the benches and aisles.
“This is a very serious matter,” Pretorius told Khakhu, adding that it was unlikely he would be granted bail if he chose to apply.
“If he passes away 1/8Tibbetts 3/8, you may be imprisoned for life.”
Pretorius said Khakhu would most likely face a Schedule Six offence due to the age of his victim.
The case was postponed to August 12 and Khakhu would be kept in custody at the Johannesburg Central Prison.
After the proceedings, Khakhu's family were angry and distressed.
They said more people were involved in this incident and should have been arrested.
They sat gathered in the court's waiting room and chased away the media, accusing them of bias in their reporting.
Meanwhile, a crowd of protesters, mostly dressed in orange t-shirts with the words “Voice of the People” printed on them, demonstrated outside the court.
“We are totally upset,” said Chahracan Amod, a community member.
“It was a personal matter between two people and at the end of the day, a three-year-old boy is a victim,” he said.
Amod said that if there was sufficient proof against the accused, he should be kept behind bars.
A vehicle parked outside the court bearing a large sticker of the “Voice of the People” also bore the image of four-year-old Taegrin Morris who was killed in a botched hijacking in Reiger Park on the East Rand last month.
Hijackers who had just forced his family out of their vehicle drove off with him still hanging out of the car, trapped by his seat-belt.
The hijackers left the car abandoned several kilometres away with the dead toddler inside.
Meanwhile, on Tuesday morning, Gauteng premier David Makhura paid a surprise visit to Sophiatown ahead of Khakhu's appearance.
Makhura said community members were not satisfied with the way policing was conducted in Westbury.
“Locals raised issues including that of the state of policing and levels of crime,” Makhura told reporters at the police station.
He said the community complained that people arrested for various crimes were usually released “and back on the streets the next day”.
“I emphasised that they should not take matters into their own hands,” Makhura said, adding that the suspect should be denied bail.
“Our police force is competent but the community was complaining about this police station yesterday.
“We are here to fix that and deal with these issues.”
He said the only way to eradicate crime was for the community and the police to work together.