#JusticeForNathaniel: South Africa Mourns Police Killing of Teenager Nathaniel Julius

#JusticeForNathaniel: South Africa Mourns Police Killing of Teenager Nathaniel Julius

Sixteen-year-old Nathaniel Julius, a child living with Down Syndrome, was recently killed by the South African police.

Gauteng Premier David Makhura has confirmed that the South African Police reportedly killed an unarmed 16-year-old Nathaniel Julius in Eldorado Park, in southern Gauteng. The death of Julius reportedly occurred Wednesday and the teenager is said to have been caught in the crossfire between a gang and the police in an alleged car theft investigation. However, Edlorado community members say Julius's death had nothing to do with gang activity.

Read: South Africans Condemns Police Brutality During Lockdown

Julius was a teenager living with Down Syndrome. On Wednesday, police were allegedly investigating gang activities related to theft of car parts. Julius is reported to have been out by a nearby shop eating biscuits while police were conducting a search. Police then approached Julius for questioning but he could not appropriately respond given his disability. Police then shot Julius, took him into the back of a police car and drove him to Baragwanath Hospital whereEWN reports that his body was "dumped".

In an interview with Newzroom Afrika, Julius' mother, Bridget Harris, pleaded her son's innocence. "My boy is innocent and where he's going God is in control". She further pleaded with the policeman known as "Scorpion" to come forward and tell the truth about the events that led to her son's death, "He's a policeman, he's supposed to protect him not kill him". Harris lamented the absence of her son from her life "He did not deserve to die like this… it's torn, there's a hole in this house, there's a void between sisters and brothers. You know we had a connection, we dance together, we sing together, we eat together, we laugh together. Nobody can fulfill that void in our hearts, it will take a long time".

News of Julius' death resulted in a standoff between Eldorado Park residents and the police amid protests. Videos of clashes between police and the community surfaced on Twitter and #JusticeForNathanielJulius trended on social media locally and internationally. Waves of support have been pouring in for the family and community from the likes of AKA, Solange, South African TV personality, Hulisani Ravele, and several others.

The Independent Police Investigative Directorate, IPID, confirmed that they had sent investigators to Eldorado Park. Spokesperson Ndileka Cola said the scene was reportedly volatile but that they were hoping to properly establish what happened.

Tensions have been growing between civilians and police across the globe as governments operate in hostility to civil unrest. Recently in America, Jacob Blake was shot dead by police as he walked away from them and this deened protest developments in the Black Lives Matter movement. #JusticeForNathanielJulius is another tragic wave in #BlackLivesMatter that has seen African solidarity gain strength globally.