Family of slain teen call on police to reveal the truth
Less than two hours after Julie Edwards dropped off her 16-year-old son, Joshua, at his friend’s house on January 5, the Centurion mother got a call telling her he was dead.
When Edwards arrived at the friend’s house with her husband, Tim, Joshua lay in a pool of blood and neither an ambulance nor the police were on the scene.
Tim tried to resuscitate him, but the teen is believed to have died instantly after being shot with a gun, owned by his 17-year-old friend’s father.
Three months since Joshua’s death, all his devastated family have heard from police is that “the matter is with the director of public prosecutions”.
Now the grade 11 pupil’s family have started an online fundraising campaign to demand justice for Joshua. They have hired private investigator Paul O’Sullivan to find out what transpired on that fateful day.
“We follow up with the police almost daily. After waiting for two hours for the police to arrive on January 5, my husband and I went home to our traumatised and devastated daughters, who had been informed of what had happened by their grandparents. My father and a friend remained at the property and their initial impression of the investigating officer was positive. They told us he seemed efficient and asked all the right questions,” Edwards said.
However, this changed over the following days when the investigating officer failed to meet the family as promised and could not be reached. “The investigating officer only came to take our statements approximately two weeks later, and almost left our house without my statement which he left on the table. He was insensitive and uninterested and showed no interest in questioning potential witnesses. He even went as far as telling a family friend that he doubted this case would go any further,” Edwards said.
She said it was heartbreaking that justice had not been served and that despite evidence that pointed to the identity of the shooter, neither he nor the licensed holder of the gun had been arrested.
Meanwhile, O’Sullivan found that Joshua’s friend allegedly fabricated a story with his father, “intended to cover the truth”. This he presented to police together with witness statements that weren’t initially collected.
O’Sullivan added that the police should have arrested the person who shot Joshua, as well as the owner of the firearm.
Gauteng police spokesperson Capt Mavela Masondo did not respond to claims that police dragged their heels on the investigation and didn’t provide an update on the case. National Prosecuting Authority spokesperson Lumka Mahanjana said the office of the director of public prosecutions received the docket on Tuesday.
“The docket will be studied to determine whether any offence has been committed and, if so, by whom,” said Mahanjana. Approached for comment, the owner of the gun initially said he would call back, but did not. He did not respond to questions sent to him on WhatsApp.
SA Gunowners Association president John Welsh, a practising advocate in Pretoria, said the 17-year-old boy could face a charge of culpable homicide if he was negligent with the weapon. The boy’s father could be held liable in a criminal and civil court. “There is a possibility he could be charged with murder, though it is rather doubtful in the circumstances as in the case of murder you must prove intent. You must prove that the father had intent to kill. I doubt that one would be able to prove that, but if there was negligence on his part, which seems obvious as the firearm was not in a safe or locked, he could possibly be charged with culpable homicide and contraventions of the Firearms Control Act as he failed to secure the firearm,” Welsh said.