Tragic end for 3-year-old Luke

Sunday World - - News - SOMAYA STOCKENSTROOM

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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