Tragic end for 3-year-old Luke
THREE-year-old Luke Tibbetts should have been celebrating his mom’s birthday party this weekend, but his life came to an abrupt end on Friday.
Just before his untimely death, the strangers who drove him on the fateful night of the shooting in Westbury related their harrowing experience to Sunday World.
Hawa Valli and her daughter Khanita Thomas (24), from Bosmont, Joburg, met Luke for the first time on Saturday afternoon.
We met him and his mom at a mutual friend’s place in Coronationville. We didn’t know them. His mom was still planning her birthday party, which would have been this weekend. The little boy was so cute, playing, laughing and dancing with my granddaughter, said Valli.
She said Luke’s mom, Candice Tibbetts, asked for a lift home to Maraisburg.
But the three women, who were with four children under the age of five, first had to travel down Steytler Road in Newclare, to drop off one of the women, known only as Berenice.
Thomas was driving a white Nissan Almera.
My five-year-old granddaughter insisted on sitting on the console in the middle. My 18-month-old granddaughter was sitting in the back seat in her car seat next to Candice, while Luke sat next to her.
For some reason, I took my fiveyear-old granddaughter to sit on my lap, and told her: Hell no, you can’t sit there because it’s not safe.’ At the same time, Candice told her son to sit on her lap. We had no idea what was going to happen next, said Valli.
It was about 7pm. The road was busy, full of pedestrians and cars. Then a bullet hit the windscreen. I didn’t even see where the bullet came from. It could have been my granddaughter. All I saw was light. We panicked, thinking we were being hijacked. I told my daughter to just drive faster,” said Valli.
Thomas said she had never been so frightened.
It’s as if my legs couldn’t move, but I drove on. I was so confused… not even sure if it was a bullet or something else that came through the window,” said Thomas.
Valli said that after a few seconds, she heard the harrowing cries of a helpless Tibbetts, who yelled: My son has been shot. Oh, Jesus, put your healing hands over him. Please, God, don’t let him die. Save him.”
Valli said she wasn’t sure who was shot because everyone in the car had blood on them.
We immediately made our way to Rahima Moosa [Mother and Child] Hospital, which wasn’t far away. But on arrival, the security looked at us and told us ever so calmly to go to the next gate. They were not concerned.
Candice immediately got out of the car, carrying her bleeding son, and rushed him to casualty.”
Valli said members of the community came forward to help.
Luke was still okay at the hospital. He managed to tell his mommy where the pain was coming from. He was then transferred to Garden
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City, said Valli.
The following day, they were told that the shooting was between two men, Lindray Khakhu (22) also known as Pappas or Venda Boy, who was on foot, and Keenan Mokwena (28), who was driving a Toyota Yaris.
Valli said their lives would never be the same.
When I go to sleep at night, all I see is blood and hear the cries of a helpless mother.”
This comes shortly after the hijacking and killing of Taegrin Morris (4) from Reiger Park.
Warrant Officer Gordon Billings said both suspects were arrested this week and would appear in the Sophiatown Magistrate Court on Tuesday.
Khakhu appeared and bail was withheld,” he said.
Luke s uncle, Llewellyn Valentine, said the family were devastated.
He was on life support, but died on his own. I was next to his bed when he died. My sister is distraught,” he said.
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