Dad released on warning to bury son he 'shot by mistake' at Joburg school

07 June 2018 - 14:47
By Kgaugelo Masweneng
Emanuel Tshabalala, 51, appeared in the Lenasia Magistrate’s Court on June 7 2018 facing a charge of murder after allegedly accidentally shooting his son at a school in Ennerdale, Johannesburg.
Image: Tankiso Makhetha / Sowetan Emanuel Tshabalala, 51, appeared in the Lenasia Magistrate’s Court on June 7 2018 facing a charge of murder after allegedly accidentally shooting his son at a school in Ennerdale, Johannesburg.

A father who allegedly shot and killed his son outside a Johannesburg school held his head in his hands as he faced a charge of murder on Thursday.

Emanuel Tshabalala‚ 51‚ dressed in jeans and a purple hoodie‚ had tears streaming down his face when he applied for bail in the Lenasia Magistrate’s Court‚ saying he wanted to bury his son.

The state did not oppose bail and the court, taking into account the fact that he handed himself over and had cooperated fully with the police, released him on a warning. 

Magistrate Maggie van der Merwe said: “I can only describe this incident as a tragedy.”

Tshabalala was sleeping in his car after dropping off his 16-year-old son‚ Luyanda Themba Tshabalala‚ for evening classes on Tuesday. He was woken by knocking on the window and‚ thinking he was in danger‚ discharged his firearm.

He said in an affidavit presented to court that after firing the weapon‚ Luyanda said: "Daddy‚ it's me".

He got out of the vehicle‚ went to his son and then rushed his son to get medical help but there was nothing that could be done to save his life.

"This is my first accident and a painful one‚" he tearfully told the court. He said the incident would haunt him for the rest of his life.

He is employed as a security officer at the vehicle unit of the South African Police Services in Krugersdorp.

Gauteng education MEC Panyaza Lesufi was in court to listen to proceedings. "We cannot go into circumstances that led into the death. We respect the justice system. We will continue to support the family and the learners‚" said Lesufi.

One of Luyanda’s teachers‚ Kurwyn Adams‚ wrote in a moving tribute on Facebook about how he would miss their debates in class.

"You had your life planned out every step of the way‚ with purpose and commitment demonstrated through every decision and action you made‚” he wrote.

“You respected your elders‚ your teachers‚ your friends and most importantly yourself. That smile right there was a permanent part of your life. You believed in education‚ and what it could do for you‚ and through that it motivated me beyond my inspiration to be a better teacher.”

He said Luyanda had transcended from a learner to a brother.

"Man I am going to miss our constructive arguments in class‚ and the joy you had in correcting me when you thought I made a mistake. You transcended from a learner to someone I could deem my brother. You contributed tremendously to the school and moreover to every person you came into contact with." Adams said.

“You will live on‚ not because of your name or the situation‚ but because of your heart‚” wrote Adams.

“Love you always.”

Sibongile‚ Luyanda’s step-mother‚ told the Sowetan that her husband was “very proud” of his son and was “dedicated to his education and supported him. He had promised to buy him a laptop to encourage him to continue excelling at school.”

A close family friend told TimesLIVE on Thursday that the father and son shared a close bond. “Themba (Luyanda) never felt like he did not belong in that household because the whole family showed him love‚ he was the favourite.”

She said the father spent quality time with his children. “He knew how to have fun with his kids too‚ taking them out to games‚ movies‚ attending important performances and games. He always took the time to listen to his kids and have a good‚ easy chat with them.”

Police spokesman Captain Mpande Khoza told SABC television: “We are investigating all angles… We have to come up with different versions to understand whether it was negligence‚ whether it was murder‚ whether it was intentional murder‚ whether it was‚ as he said‚ it was fear as we know that we all live in Joburg where it is not safe for anyone to be in a car at night.”