JOHANNESBURG - The man who accidentally shot and killed his son at Fred Norman High School in Ennerdale in Johannesburg was released on a warning by the Lenasia Magistrate's Court on Thursday.
"The facts of the case are common cause between the state and the defence...the applicant has convinced me that he is eligible for bail," Magistrate Maggie Van Der Merwe said.
"I can only describe this incident as a tragedy and judging by the applicant's display of emotions, it's an incident that will impact them for the rest of their lives. The applicant has handed himself over to the police and cooperated with the police."
She said the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) will decide whether the matter should proceed or not.
On Wednesday, Sibusiso Tshabalala, 51, was sleeping in his vehicle while waiting for his son, Luyanda, at evening classes after school when he heard knocking on his window and drew his firearm and fired several shots, apparently in the mistaken belief that it was car hijackers. Instead, he shot and killed his 14-year-old son.
Tshabalala was joined by his wife in the dock and broke down in tears before proceedings began. He is facing a charge of murder.
"The State has indicated that this was not a pre-mediated murder, hence it is a schedule five offence," Magistrate Van Der Merwe said.
Earlier, she explained Tshabalala's rights and asked if he understood.
"This is the first and painful mistake," he responded.
Defence lawyer Chwewe Machaka read Tshabalala's affidavit which stated that he was a security guard employed by the South African Police Services in Krugersdorp for the past five years, earning R10,000 per month and that he had three dependants who were still in school. He said his wife was unemployed and also depended on him.
Tshabalala handed himself over to the police following the incident. He explained to the court that he fell asleep in his car and was woken up by a loud noise and tampering with the car, which was when he thought he was being hijacked and he drew his firearm and shot, only to hear his son screaming "Daddy, it's me."
He said it was dark outside and wasn't able to see that it was his son.
"I wish to be released on bail so I can bury my son in dignity. This incident will haunt me for the rest of my life," Tshabalala said through his affidavit.
State prosecutor Tumi Maunye said that according to investigating officer Bruce Chauke, Tshabalala has no previous convictions and there was no reason to believe that he would not attend proceedings.
Gauteng MEC of Education Panyaza Lesufi was also present in court.
"We are satisfied with what we witnessed in court and we continue to support the learners at the school and they will continue with the programme after school. We have offered to support the family because this incident was shocking," GDE spokesperson Steve Mabona said following proceedings.