Johannesburg - Luke Tibbetts’ distraught mother said it was a shame it took the death of her child to force action against crime in Westbury.
Candice Tibbetts buried her three-year-old son on Saturday at Westpark Cemetery where scores of people paid their last respects.
Luke was hit by a stray bullet while on his mother’s lap in a car in Westbury on August 2.
He died from his injuries in the Garden City Hospital six days later.
“He loved life and I loved him,” Candice said on Saturday as she delivered her eulogy through streams of tears at the Perfecting Church International in Longdale, west of Joburg.
“I pray that Luke’s death will bring peace to our streets. But what a shame, what an injustice, what a huge responsibility to place on a three-year-old,” she said.
The congregation sang the national anthem loudly shortly after the South African flag was draped over Luke’s coffin, just metres from where Candice delivered her speech.
Gauteng Premier David Makhura attended the funeral and said it was unacceptable that children were not safe from criminals.
“Ek is gatvol,” he told the congregation at the church, adding the government, police and communities needed to do more to stop crime.
“Maybe if we had done something that day Luke would still be with us,” he said.
“We need to come together to declare war against these criminals. That time is now.”
However, Makhura urged the community not to turn to vigilantism.
“I want to plead with you that in our anger, we shouldn’t become the beast.”
Lindray Khakhu, the man whose bullet allegedly hit Luke during a shooting, appeared in the Newlands Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday, where it was revealed he was facing 18 separate criminal charges including murder and attempted murder.
He was originally charged with the attempted murder of Luke but this was changed to murder when the toddler died.
“We will work with you, as government we must make sure he does not get bail,” Makhura said on Saturday.
Elizabeth Tayler, the mother of a little girl who went to creche with Luke, said she was “heartbroken” for the family.
“It makes you feel like it can happen to your child as well, any child for that matter,” she said.
Tayler said her daughter was too young to fully understand what happened to her friend.
During the funeral, Luke’s friends from the Hamilton creche in Westbury performed a dance in memory of him which brought smiles to the otherwise tearful crowd.
Candice said Luke loved to sing and dance and a video was shown on the church’s big screens of Luke dancing at creche, which also brought a moment of joy to the sombre funeral.
“We have to have faith that this thing that happened to Luke will open the eyes of our community,” Bernice Kroper, another family member, told the congregation.
“There is a small percentage (in Westbury) that is hurting our children, hurting our old people.”