Trophies Luyanda Themba Tshabalala had won over the years for his academic excellence fill the display cabinet inside the family sitting room. Sadly, the 16-year-old’s life was ended when his father shot him dead on Tuesday night at Fred Norman Secondary in Ennerdale, south of Joburg.
The youngster’s 50-year-old dad, who told both his family and police the shooting was a freak accident, has been arrested and charged with murder. The father made his first appearance in the Protea Magistrate’s Court on Thursday and was released on warning so that he could bury his son.
Speaking to journalists at the family’s home, Luyanda’s distraught stepmother Sibongile Tshabalala revealed that her husband returned home after 9 pm on Tuesday with the news that he had accidentally shot the teenager.
Sibongile said her husband went to the school to fetch Luyanda, who was attending an extra evening lesson that ended at 8 pm. She added that he had told her that he fell fast asleep in his car while waiting for Luyanda.
“He became sleepy because he was exhausted. He was helping to build a house during the day,” she said. “Luyanda came knocking on the window of the car but he didn’t hear him.
“The child started shaking the door in an attempt to wake him. He then fired a shot because he thought he was being hijacked. Crime is rife in our community,” added Sibongile. Luyanda had also called his father’s phone three times before the fatal shooting, she added.
The Gauteng Department of Education on Wednesday, however, said there was a different version of the tragic incident. Department spokesperson Steve Mabona said some learners had witnessed a scuffle between the boy and his father earlier in the day.
“There are learners who said they witnessed some incident (between father and son during the day) and went back to class to call educators,” he told The Star.
Shattered window glass inside the school’s yard on Wednesday stood testimony to the tragic incident which played out. Luyanda was certified dead on arrival at the hospital. The father bundled him in the car after realising what had happened, said Sibongile.
Showing journalists academic trophies the Grade 11 pupil had scooped since his primary school years, Sibongile said she would remember Luyanda for his intelligence. “He was very clever at school. There are his trophies,” she said, proudly pointing to them.
“Luyanda was a quiet boy who loved studying. His father was going to buy him a laptop soon.” The teenager’s mother said her son had dreams of becoming a chartered accountant.
A brother to three siblings, the youngster was a deputy president on the representative council of learners at Fred Norman Secondary.
Sibongile said Luyanda had a perfect relationship with his father. “My husband had so much love for his children. He was used to fetching Luyanda from school (at night).”
Victoria Makhanya, Luyanda’s 75-year-old grandmother, said she would miss him terribly. “This child loved me so much. He used to hug me whenever I left.”
Soweto West police cluster spokesperson Captain Mpande Khoza said: “According to him (the father), the boy knocked on one of the windows of the car. “Out of fear that he was being attacked, he pulled out his firearm and shot towards the window, not realising that it was his son.”
“We’re investigating all angles,” Khoza said. “We cannot only rely on the father’s version. We have to come up with different versions to understand whether it was negligence, intentional murder or out of fear.”