Toddler brain dead after shooting

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IOL boy shot westbury SUPPLIED Luke Tibbets, 3, died after he was wounded in a shooting in Westbury.

Johannesburg - He lies on the hospital bed motionless, kept alive by machines connected to his body by a myriad tubes.

A bullet lodged in his head has rendered him brain dead, and doctors have told his mother there is no hope for recovery. The boy is being kept alive by machines.

But Candice Tibbetts refuses to believe there is no hope.

She is constantly at her 4-year-old son Luke’s bedside, praying for a miracle.

“She told me that she does not want to bury her son. She does not want to switch the machines off because she believes a miracle will take place,” her brother, Llewellyn Valentine, said on Sunday outside the paediatric intensive care unit at Garden City Clinic, where the family have been keeping vigil.

Luke was on his mom’s lap in a car when he was shot in Westbury on Saturday night.

Earlier that day, Hawa Valli, her daughter and two granddaughters had gone to visit a Candice Matthews in Coronationville.

When they got there, they found two other women they did not know - a woman known as Bernice with her 6-year-old son Chad, and Tibbetts and her son.

When Valli and her family left for their Bosmont home later that evening, the two women asked for a lift. Bernice had to be dropped off in Westbury and Tibbetts in Maraisburg.

When they left Coronationville, Valli was seated in the front passenger seat holding her 5-year-old granddaughter. Her daughter Khanata Thomas was driving. In the back seat, Bernice was holding Chad, Tibbetts was holding Luke, and Valli’s grandson was in his car seat.

On Steytler Road in Westbury - the street where Bernice lives - Thomas started driving slowly because the street was busy.

A loud bang suddenly rang out and pieces of glass hit her on the face. She thought they were being hijacked. Thomas hit the brakes, thinking the bang had come from the car. The children started screaming, but amid the commotion were Tibbetts’s hysterical screams: “My child has been shot, my child has been shot.”

Valli will never forget what she saw when she turned around.

Tibbetts was crying and reciting a prayer, tears streaming down her face. “In the name of Jesus, please heal my child, please take care of my child he has been shot.” Lying motionlessly on his mother’s lap, with blood on his head, was Luke.

When Valli checked the front windscreen, she saw a small bullet hole in the centre of it.

Luke was rushed to the nearby Rahima Moosa Mother and Child Hospital, where he was stabilised before being transported to Garden City private clinic.

Valli said people who rushed to their rescue at the scene told them that the shooting was due to rival gangs fighting over drugs and territories.

An inconsolable Valentine said he had taken Luke to the shops a few hours before he was shot. He had bought him a cooldrink and a chocolate, and when he had to go to work later, Luke did not want him to leave.

“He kept saying ‘bye bye, uncle’. When I turned my head to look at him for the last time, he was looking at me. I said ‘bye bye’ and he waved. Even if the person who shot him is arrested and justice is done, what about Lukie?” a crying Valentine said.

It was not only Luke who got caught in the crossfire. A man who was a passenger in another car was also shot.

A man believed to have been behind the shootings was arrested in church on Sunday morning. He still had his Bible in his hand. He was detained at Sophiatown police station.

Police spokesman Warrant Officer Gordon Billings confirmed that a 24-year-old man had been charged with attempted murder. He would appear in court on Tuesday.

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The Star



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