‘While we prayed Luke simply left’

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

Johannesburg - Luke Tibbetts’ family had been praying for a miracle on Friday. The life support machines were beeping. But shortly after noon his little heart stopped beating. He slipped away. The young boy, who was tragically shot as he sat on his mother’s lap inside a car in Westbury last weekend, succumbed to his injuries.

On Saturday, the family will face yet another challenge – that of telling Luke’s older brother, Matthew Pieterse, 4, that his brother won’t be coming home.

Speaking outside his nephew’s home in Westbury minutes after returning from the hospital, Luke’s uncle Llewellyn Valentine said he had not yet informed Matthew that his brother was dead.

“Doctors told me to take pictures of Luke and show it to him and tell him that Luke was hurt… but I haven’t managed to do it. I don’t know if he’ll understand,” a devastated Valentine said.

Outside the blue and white block of flats, young and old friends, family, neighbours and community members filed into the house to offer their sympathies.

Some stood outside the door weeping and hugging one another.

IOL SS_Westbury256 Speaking outside his nephews home in Westbury minutes after returning from the hospital, Lukes uncle Llewellyn Valentine said he had not yet informed Luke's little brother that he was dead. INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPERS

Family spokesman and community leader Shahim Ismail, who was at the hospital when Luke died, described the moment as extremely painful and said a distraught Candice Tibbetts had found it hard to let go of her young son.

“It was as if the machines were counting his life down. While we prayed he simply left. The most difficult part was seeing Candice. A mother’s love is unconditional,” he said.

Ismail said that just an hour before Luke died, doctors had informed the family that the boy was still fighting and holding on. He said at some point the family had also asked for privacy to bath him.

Meanwhile, Ismail said Luke’s father, Derrick Pieterse, had been informed of his condition.

“Myself and Llewellyn went to see him and told him he needed to go to the hospital. He went there to spend some time with his son.”

Warrant Officer Gordon Billings said that charges against the men allegedly responsible for the young boy’s death would be changed from attempted murder to murder. Lindray Khakhu, 24, was arrested in church last Sunday.

Keelan Mokwena, who had earlier said the bullet that struck Luke was meant for him, was also apprehended this week.

Both men will appear in the Sophiatown Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday.

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Saturday Star

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