Justice for Nathaniel
4 September 2020
Note to editors: The following remarks were delivered by Herman Mashaba, President of ActionSA, at a memorial service held for the late Nathaniel Julies in Eldorado Park this evening.
The Harris and Julies Families,
The People of Eldorado Park and,
Fellow South Africans.
Firstly, let me give mine and ActionSA’s heartfelt condolences to the Harris and Julies families for the loss of Nathaniel.
I also want to extend the same condolences to the members of the Eldorado Park Community.
Someone like me can only empathise with you in this time of pain and grief as I have personally never lost a child in this way. But, I can relate to what it feels like to have someone you love, lose their life so unexpectedly.
Tonight, we all mourn Nathaniel’s tragic loss together with the community of Eldorado Park.
I believe many of us can relate to the pain this community is feeling.
I think I speak for all South Africans across the nation in communities alike who have and are going through what you are going through.
I have come to know your community well over the past couple of years. It breaks my heart to see how this community was forgotten and neglected by an uncaring state, like so many similar communities across our nation.
South Africa, we must be honest with ourselves and face the harsh realities of our society.
Our social structures are breaking down under the weight of crime, violence and unemployment.
It is no secret that the scourge of drug and alcohol abuse is high in our communities. These then have a ripple effect that leads to all kinds of social ills that include gender-based violence, rape, school killings, and random stabbings.
This has a devastating impact on families and communities at large.
Increasingly people the world over are crying out to be protected so that we may feel safer in the communities in which we live.
We are bombarded with horrific images of police brutality and global and national protests for Black Lives, Coloured Lives, Women's Lives, Children's Lives, LGBTQI Lives; and Farm Lives to matter.
And now, because of Nathaniel, we are forced to urgently recognise that people living with disability, their lives matter too!
But I know that you are all familiar with the challenges we face. I do not want to dwell on them tonight.
I feel humbled to speak to you this evening as we mourn Nathaniel.
Let the loss of his life bring into the sharpest of focus the magnitude of work that we, all South Africans must do to reverse the injustices of our past.
Where people were forced to live separately as a result of Apartheid-era spatial planning, we must work together to integrate our communities.
It is disappointing that 26 years into our democracy our societies are yet to be fully integrated.
It is disappointing that 26 years into our democracy, some communities do not enjoy equal access to services and opportunities as others.
We deserve a government that proactively pursues social integration so that we can live as One people.
We cannot continue to suffer from indefinite racial, social and economic separation.
To that end, we must make sure that our children get to grow up in a truly non-racial and a more just and equal society.
Most importantly, a safer South Africa, free of drugs, alcohol abuse and gang-related violence.
To do this, we must, as a collective, demand that we live in a society that adheres to the rule of law without exception.
No country can flourish, and no economy can grow in a state of chaos.
We must ACT as One to build a safer and secure South Africa where criminals cannot act with impunity.
Tackling crime and violence in South Africa requires addressing the underlying socio-economic drivers of crime while ensuring that a capable Criminal Justice System prosecutes all offenders.
There is no denying that crime and violence undermine our social stability and economic confidence.
We must work together to overhaul our Criminal Justice System and empower our Law Enforcement Agencies to ensure that it is criminals, and not law-abiding citizens, who live in fear.
We must, as a nation, ensure that we continually strive to build a dedicated and professional police service that exists to serve and protect our people.
I am glad that the police officers responsible for Nathaniel's death are facing the full might of the law and we commend IPID and law enforcement for their swift action in this matter.
However, I do want us to remember that not all police officials are corrupt and reckless in the execution of their duties.
We have many policemen and women who are law-abiding and committed members of the service who need our recognition; we should not focus on the few whose actions cause us to distrust the police service.
There is no place in our country for police criminality, brutality and recklessness where our citizens must fear those tasked with protecting us.
Let us stand firm as a country against crime, police brutality, drugs, and alcohol abuse.
Let us stand firm against gender-based violence, rape, and senseless killings of our people and the overall moral decay of our society.
Let us stand firm and Act as One to build a united and democratic South Africa where all our people live in peace and are equally protected by law.
Farewell, young and courageous Nathaniel. May your beloved soul rest in perfect and eternal peace!
Issued by Lerato M-Ngobeni, National Spokesperson, Action SA, 4 September 2020