Johannesburg - Westbury residents are allegedly shielding the people who were involved in the shooting of a 4-year-old boy, who is now being kept alive by machines.
This is according to Sophiatown police station’s Brigadier Susan Pitout and Community Safety MEC Sizakele Nkosi-Malobane.
Luke Tibbetts was hit by a stray bullet while in a car with his mother and other occupants on a busy street in Westbury on Saturday night. Only a few people, however, claim to have seen anything.
Witnesses who gave statements after the incident gave contradictory accounts.
The community has been baying for blood since the incident, accusing the police of not doing enough to help reduce crime in the area.
Residents have also threatened to burn down the police station if something was not done.
Pitout said that on Monday, they had been out in the community until well after midnight, trying to get leads and also doing follow-ups on interviews initially made.
However, they realised that those first statements that people gave seemed to contradict the follow-up interviews.
“Even when you speak to them, they are not forthcoming with information, you have to force it out of them,” she said.
Police have also not been able to get the gun that was used during the incident, despite going to different locations where they were told it might be.
“What is crucial is getting that gun because the crime scene must be linked to it. It would be very good if someone came with information,” Pitout said.
Nkosi-Malobane said some people had coloured their information, while others were deliberately contradicting their earlier statements.
She pleaded with residents to come forward with information that would help the police make arrests.
“A number of people saw what happened, but only a few can confirm it. It might be your son tomorrow lying in a hospital bed, fighting for his life. Come and testify and tell the truth.
“We want you to help us, if you need to be protected we will help you,” she said.
Nkosi-Malobane said she would visit the community in the next few days to make another plea for information.
The man who allegedly shot Luke appeared at the Newclare Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday.
Lenroy Khaku faces two counts of attempted murder, as the occupant of another car was shot too.
Prosecutor Vincent Machabela told the court Khaku has three other pending cases of attempted murder and was out on bail.
Magistrate Koos Pretorius told Khaku he was facing a very serious charge and that since Luke was a child, he was unlikely to get bail.
Luke was in a critical condition, but in the unfortunate event that he passed away, the charge would be murder, Pretorius said.
Nkosi-Malobane said police were doing their jobs, but magistrates were releasing suspects on bail.
Outside the court, Khaku’s family were fuming, saying the other victim shot in the debacle was the instigator and should also have been arrested.
Gauteng Premier David Makhura made an unannounced visited to the police station on Tuesday after residents complained about the service rendered at the police station.
Khaku will be back in court on Tuesday.