NEWS
07/06/2018 08:39 SAST | Updated 07/06/2018 08:43 SAST

'Dad, It's Me, Themba' – 16-Year-Old From Ennerdale Shouts As His Dad Shoots Him, Thinking He's A Hijacker

"I shot the child by mistake, I thought I was being hijacked."

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"I shot the child by mistake, I thought I was being hijacked."

This is what a man told the stepmother of his son, Luyanda Themba Tshabalala, who was mistakenly shot on Tuesday night on his school ground, shortly after attending night classes in Ennerdale.

The 50-year-old man accidentally shot his son, thinking he was being hijacked.

Sibongile Tshabalala, 47, said she was getting ready for bed at around 21:00 when she got worried that her husband, who had gone to fetch Luyanda from night classes at Fred Norman Secondary School, had not returned home.

"Earlier, he told his father that there were evening classes and asked him to please take him. So, as he always did, his dad took him to school and then came back home."

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At around 20:00, because Luyanda had said they would be done by 20:00, his father returned to the school to fetch him.

"When he got there, he parked inside the Fred Norman Secondary premises and waited. While he was waiting, he fell asleep because he had returned from working on a construction site, so he was tired. He fell asleep."

Tshabalala said Luyanda had called his father, while he was asleep in the car.

"My husband said he had found three missed calls from Luyanda. He did not hear the phone."

Luyanda recognised his father's vehicle and headed towards the vehicle.

"When he got to the car, he tried to open the door, but his father had locked the car. He couldn't open the car, so then he began shaking it. When my husband woke up, he saw someone who looked like he was trying to hijack him, so he got a fright and reached for his gun.

"He then fired a shot. During that time, the child was screaming, 'Dad, it is me Themba.' But by that time, he had already shot at him."

"The child then collapsed," she said.

People in the area at the time were shocked, scared into stillness after witnessing the incident.

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Luyanda's father quickly picked his son up and put him in the back seat of the car and tried to drive to the nearest hospital, all while trying to call for an ambulance, but with no luck. After getting lost along the way, he eventually arrived at a healthcare facility and handed his son over.

"He waited outside. They then told him that the boy had left us."

Tshabalala said, around 21:00, she was getting ready for bed and was wondering where her husband had been.

"When he got home he said, 'I shot the child by mistake, I thought I was being hijacked.' Because we live in an area where there are a lot of bad things that happen, we are always scared.

"He said he just opened his eyes and the car was shaking... That is how the child was shot... by mistake."

She said her husband was used to taking Luyanda to night classes, but he had been exhausted on Tuesday night.

"He came home with clothes with cement. He is still wearing those clothes."

Describing her husband's relationship with his son, she said: "They got along very well. He is a father who loves his four children very much."

Pointing at her several of Luyanda's trophies decked on the shelf, she said he was a very bright child.

"He was someone who loved his school work, he was very respectful, he was very quiet and was never someone who liked fighting."

Luyanda's devastated grandmother Victoria Makhanya said she was very hurt.

"Even when I was coming this morning, I could not help it, I cried alone. I was not even able to pack the clothes to come here. The way this child loved me, when I came to visit, he used to hug me."

At night, Luyanda would bid the 75-year-old goodnight and when he left to go to school in the morning he would say: "Gogo, I am off to school."

Gauteng education department spokesperson Steve Mabona said they were shocked and saddened to hear about the incident.

"We are not sure of what transpired, but the police would be in a position to share with us the details of what may have led to the incident and what happened."

Mabona said the department was supporting the schooling community, as well as the Luyanda's family.

"We have offered assistance and support, as we would normally do as the department... A loss of a child is quite difficult and we say condolences to the family and the schooling community as a whole," he said.

Captain Mpande Khoza, from the Soweto West Cluster, said a case of murder had been opened.

The father is expected to appear at the Protea Magistrate's Court on Thursday.

"I cannot say what exactly happened. What we know is the version that we were given to us by the father," Khoza said.

He said it would be difficult for him to say whether the father was in a sober state of mind when the incident happened, because blood tests taken still needed to be processed in a laboratory.

"We are investigating all angles. We cannot only rely on the stories we were told by the father. We have to come up with a different version so that we can determine whether it was murder, negligence, intentional murder, or whether it was a mistake, as he said," Khoza said.

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