Johannesburg - Gauteng Premier David Makhura has issued a stern warning to suspects involved in cases in which children have been caught in the crossfire of criminal activities.
Makhura visited Luke Tibbetts, 4, who is in the ICU at Garden City Clinic in Mayfair, Joburg, after he was shot while seated on his mother’s lap in another person’s car.
Makhura said: “It’s unfortunate that it has been children who have been caught in the crossfire. The criminals must know that for each of these cases, we’re going for them.
“We shall not rest until they’re put to rot in jail,” Makhura said, speaking outside the hospital on Monday afternoon.
“The family are going through a difficult time. On the side of the police, we are happy that they have arrested the culprit.
“He is facing several charges, he’s somebody who’s known to have been conducting a reign of terror in the community,” Makhura said.
“The community is actively mobilised, we’re supporting the community – he must never be given bail. He must go through the processes until he’s put in jail. He’s an undesirable element in the community,” he said.
The 24-year-old suspect was expected to appear in court on Tuesday.
In addition to having to deal with the trauma of her son’s injuries, Luke’s mother, Candice, was left fuming after hearing radio reports on Monday morning that her son had died.
Tibbetts and her family heard radio reports that Luke, who was shot on Saturday, had died after doctors decided to switch off his life support.
That was followed by numerous messages of condolence.
Sitting outside the paediatric intensive care unit at Garden City Clinic, where her son is being kept on life support, Tibbetts said she was in bed on Monday morning, listening to the radio, when she heard that her son had died after the doctors decided to switch off the life support.
She was confused and agitated that no one had informed her of this.
Tibbetts then rushed to the hospital, where she found her son still alive.
Tibbetts’s brother, Llewellyn Valentine, was bombarded by messages and calls from colleagues and family who wanted to confirm the news early Monday morning.
He was in the dark about the issue as well, and when he rushed to his mother’s house, no one had heard about the boy’s death.
He and Tibbetts confirmed that Luke was indeed still alive, and spent time at his bedside.
Luke was sitting on his mother’s lap in a car when he was shot in Westbury on Saturday night.
Tibbetts and a friend, known only as Bernice, had asked another woman, Hawa Valli, and her daughter, Khanata Thomas, for a lift.
Bernice had to be dropped off in Westbury and Tibbetts in Maraisburg.
On Steytler Road in Westbury – the street in which Bernice lives – Thomas started driving slowly because the street was busy.
Then they heard a loud bang and glass sprayed everywhere. She thought they were being hijacked.
Thomas hit the brakes, thinking the bang had come from the car.
The children were hysterical, but amid the commotion, Tibbetts could be heard screaming: “My child has been shot, my child has been shot.”
Luke was lying motionless on his mother’s lap, with a wound to his head.