Woman shot 8 times with rubber bullets during Eldorado Park protest won’t give up on getting justice for Nathaniel Julies
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Johannesburg - Naziela Radcliff’s wounds were still fresh, a day after she was shot eight times with rubber bullets by police during protests in Eldorado Park following the death of Nathaniel Julies, 16.
Yesterday, she pulled down her pants and lifted up her top, showing bloody bruises from the impact of the rubber bullets, which broke her skin.
“I’m still in a lot of pain and I could barely sleep last night,” she said. “I’m bleeding from every part of my body.”
The young mother-of-one was among hundreds of community members who marched to the local police station on Thursday following the death of the teenager, who was shot and killed on Wednesday, allegedly by police officers.
As tensions mounted, the police fired rubber bullets and stun grenades to disperse the protesting crowd.
Radcliff said she was caught in a hail of bullets. “After getting shot one time, I dropped to the ground. A policeman came from close range and shot me another seven more times like I was a dog. I thought I was going to die.”
Despite her ordeal, Radcliff joined another protest yesterday when residents clashed with police outside the police station. Holding a placard that read, “We will not be silenced”, she joined hundreds of protesters demanding answers about Nathaniel’s death.
According to his family, the teenager had run out of the house to try and find food. While he was outside, a police van pulled up and the emergency lights were switched on. It’s understood that the boy got excited and the police allegedly shot at him. The teen was put in the back of a police van and dumped at Chris Hani Baragwanath hospital, where he later died.
The community is “fed up” with the police in the area and demanding answers about the senseless death of the teen, said Radcliff.
“Three years ago a youngster was shot by police and nothing was done. Let me guarantee you, nothing will be done for this little boy and his family. They will make noise about the case for a week or two and then forget about it completely.”
Radcliff and other community members have accused local police officers of being “corrupt and trigger happy”.
“They don’t even give warning shots. They just shoot you, whether you’re a child or not. We are being treated like criminals here. They have this idea that our kids are thugs and gangsters and abuse them for no reason.
“They have to close down this police station entirely so that we as the community can choose the police that is right for us.” The community wants mob justice for the police officer who allegedly killed Nathaniel, who they claimed hails from Eldorado Park.
“Let him free so that the community can sort him out,” said Radcliff. “He is probably going to go to jail for a few years and then be released on good behaviour. How is that fair on the family that has lost a child? He is never coming back.”
Should authorities fail to meet the demands of residents, community members won’t hesitate to burn the police station to the ground.
“All the policemen must f*** off out of this area,” said an angry Victor Meyers. “If nothing is done, the same thing is going to happen time and time again.”
Meyers, a lifelong resident, is distraught by Nathaniel’s death as he too has a disabled child.
“My son died a few years ago of an illness and it was so painful. I can only imagine the pain being felt by Nathaniel’s parents. We are not going to just settle for an arrest. We want changes here in Eldorado Park and big changes, starting with the removal of all the police officers.”
Meyers believes the largely coloured community has been marginalised. “Coloured lives matter. But the police only care about themselves, hide behind their uniforms and don’t do their work.”
Bruce Jones accused the police of using heavy handed tactics for years. “Not all the police are corrupt here but there are a number who abuse and beat up our youngsters daily and nothing gets done. I know of a youngster who was almost strangled to death by the police recently. They stole his money.
Nothing was done to these officers. “I hope this incident is an eyeopener to (Police Minister) Bheki Cele, and he realises the huge problems we have here.”
Jones, however, isn’t expecting much change. “Last year, Bheki Cele came to Eldorado Park to address these very same issues we are bringing up today.
“He said they would be addressed and promised to give the community feedback. Till today, we haven’t heard anything from him or his people.”
Monique Swartz, who joined yesterday’s protest, blamed Cele for the teen’s senseless death. “It’s his people. They take his orders and because he doesn’t know how to handle his troops, an innocent young boy has been killed.
“All the blame needs to fall on his shoulders. What’s going to happen to this child’s family? Nathaniel’s mother is so familiar with his routine. What time he baths, what time he eats. She’s been looking after him his entire life.
What does she do now? Her entire life revolved around this child, but now he is gone because of our gun happy police.”
Cele, who visited the family yesterday, confirmed the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) is probing the circumstances.
“We are waiting for the investigation and want to make it as independent as we can because people are making allegations against the police,” he said.
“If we found that the police were responsible, they will be treated the same as any other South African.”
He called for “peaceful discussions” between police and the community.
“Even if they (police) are supposed to use any form or method, they should avoid shooting and killing anybody.”
“I’m not saying the child was killed by the police, we are investigating that, but generally speaking it is supposed to be better dealt with between the community leaders and the police.”