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South African leader calls for calm after teen’s death

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FILE PHOTO: President Cyril Ramaphosa delivers his State of the Nation address at parliament in Cape Town, South Africa, February 13, 2020. REUTERS/SUMAYA HISHAM

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa appealed for calm on Friday after protests broke out in a Johannesburg suburb over the death of a disabled teenager allegedly killed by police.

Nathaniel Julius, 16, was shot dead on Wednesday night in Eldorado Park, a township ravaged by drugs and crime.

Family members say Julius, who had Down syndrome, was out to buy biscuits from a shop when he was shot by police on patrol.

Violent protests flared in Eldorado Park on Thursday as hundreds of residents took to the street denouncing the death.

Police fired teargas, rubber bullets and stun grenades to disperse the protesters, who threw rocks and damaged a local police station.

Ramaphosa called on the community not to let their anger “spill over into action that could worsen the trauma”.

“Justice can only prevail if community workers work with our criminal justice system to address alleged injustice,” the president said in a statement.

Ramaphosa offered his condolences to the Julius family and said the teenager had been “deprived of a future”.

“My thoughts and prayers are with the family and neighbours of Nathaniel… whose tragic death has given rise to anger and unrest in a community that deserves better,” Ramaphosa said.

South Africa’s police watchdog is investigating the killing, which has also sparked outrage on social media.

Police Minister Bheki Cele on Friday told reporters he could not comment on the allegation, saying the police watchdog would carry out an independent investigation into the killing.


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