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Poetic Licence: Nathaniel Julies's death was of recklessness, brutality or both

File image.

File image.

Published Aug 30, 2020


By Rabbie Serumula

A man who has nothing, nevertheless anything to lose but has nothing, yet reasons with heart, is a noble man.

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I met such a man this week.

It was the message on my sweater that lit his eyes up.

He appeared from the traffic.

Walked towards me, clad in a reflective bib.

His long sleeve t-shirt peered beneath the bib and cradled his khakis.

I was blowing cigarette smoke, walking across the road from Spar in Krugersdorp North on Thursday at dusk .

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His eyes partially shaded by a bucket hat.

Seemingly jaded, moseyed along from a colleague he had just chuckled at.

His eyes bloodshot.

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He stopped short, and those eyes encountered my chest.

They panned up and locked with mine.

“Do you know what that means to me?”, he asked.

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Black child, you can do it, the message on my sweater, with a majestic map of the Africa continent, read.

He told me the possibilities that these words had sprung to him were overwhelming.

His name is Dennis.

He is car a guard on 4th street in Krugersdorp North.

He told me how he sees himself out of his current situation.

We dabbled on the power of manifestation.

He said he had been waiting for something. Praying for a sign.

That logo,and message on my sweater lit his eyes up. He said that was it.

“These words remind me that someday I will become something my family will be proud of!” He clapped his hands together in his conviction.

I believed him.

However, it was what he said next that intrigued me.

“When we get opportunities we become selfish, then entitled, and we grow to become reckless.”

This recklessness, as I wondered of in thought, sounds like police sirens. Like teargas canisters tumbling on Turf road in Eldorado Park. Like bricks bouncing on police cars.

It sounds like rage. A people angered, still bleeding from a fresh scar.

Like a dispersing crowd of disgruntled community members ducking rubber bullets in the name of justice.

This recklessness smells like a handful of biscuits.

Biscuits that fell off the hands of 16-year-old Nathaniel Julies, who lived with Down Syndrome, when he was shot down.

Allegedly by police who said he was caught in a cross fire between them and a gang.

The community insists there was no gang and police shoot-out. At least not this time.

This recklessness tastes like police brutality.

Nathaniel was disabled and unarmed.

As I wondered back to my discussion with Dennis, he emphasized that the world is filled with people who fail to let go of childish selfishness, who become entitled and reckless.

This recklessness is a pillar of darkness within us, Dennis said.

This darkness is greed, it is a lack of empathy. It harbours hate. It fuels animosity.

However, when his opportunity comes, he vowed never to become reckless, nor entitled, neither selfish.

We had already elbow pumped.

He reminded me that the message on my sweater was the sign he prayed for.

We locked eyes and nodded - like we can both see the light in his future.

We elbow pumped again and he disappeared into traffic.

The Saturday Star

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