WATCH | Memorial unveiled for Nathaniel Julies a year after shooting
The mother of Nathaniel Julies on Thursday expressed her gratitude for all the support she has received since his death a year ago.
Bridget Harris was speaking at the unveiling of a memorial marking a year since the Eldorado Park teen with Down syndrome was shot.
“I just want to salute myself because for 16 years, since Nathaniel was small, he was dynamite. I was in the hospital with him when he was three years old, when he was diagnosed with TB, bronchopneumonia. For me it was like, I am going to battle with this,” she said.
Three police officers were arrested and charged with murder after Nathaniel was shot. They are out on bail waiting for their trial to start.
ActionSA was at the event marking the anniversary. ActionSA president Herman Mashaba said the wheels of justice in the case were turning too slowly.
“I just want to thank you for everything you have done for the family, we really appreciate it. We want to thank Mr Mashaba for stepping in at the lowest point ... he stepped in as a father figure, not as a political figure,” said Harris.
“I also want to thank the community, they have always been supportive. The second the community heard that Nathaniel had passed on, it was shocking news to them. I just want to thank each and every one for spending time with me,” she said.
She recalled how Nathaniel loved greeting people and making conversation.
“People with Nathaniel's situation are like 10 children but it's one person. It's hard when you have other children too because you still need to look after them ... I have never been let down since I heard he had symptoms of Down syndrome. I was confused and never understood it at first, but it never brought me down,” she said.
Mashaba said: “I am sorry that Nathaniel was taken from all of you at such a young age, in the most vicious of ways, by people who were meant to protect him.
“I am sorry that just one day short of a year later, you have still not seen justice for his death. I am sorry that the criminal justice system’s processes grind so slowly.
“You may, legitimately, feel that you are being denied justice, that he is being denied justice. What you have gone through since that fateful day last year and what you continue to go through to this very day is cruel. No-one deserves such a fate.”
He said he would campaign until communities like Eldorado Park felt that they, too, mattered in society.
“That the big politicians in charge have forgotten about Nathaniel, this community and others like it, is a sin which they will one day have to answer for. They will one day have to face the consequences of their careless disregard for this community and others like it.”