Killing leaves mom devastated

Image: 123rf/ Igor Stevanovic

The mother of an 18-year-old schoolboy who was shot and killed during a protest at a mine in Limpopo on Wednesday has been left devastated.

Botshelo Petja from Bolopa village in Ga-Mphahlele area was killed, allegedly by Dithabeng chrome mine security guards, during a protest by the local community.

Botshelo, a grade 11 learner at Kgaga-Tlou secondary school, died before he could fulfil his dream of being an architect.

Botshelo's uncle, Pelebele Petja, said his sister was too heart-broken to talk or eat since the death of her only son.

Petja told Sunday World that it pained him to see his sister broken.

"We are hurting as a family. My sister is shattered. A young boy who we were looking forward to having around for a long time was taken away from us in a very painful manner. He died for the things he knew nothing about.

"Botshelo was a cool boy who was positive about life. He had a passion for drawing and was doing engineering subjects at school so that he could become an architect. But that will never happen because his life was cut short," said Petja.

Petja said on the day of the incident, he had received a call from his relatives asking him to come home urgently. When he arrived, he was told his nephew had been shot by mine security officers. "I arrived at the scene and found Botshelo in a pool of blood. I immediately took him and put him in my car and drove to the hospital where he died upon arrival."

Police spokesperson Moatshe Ngoepe said one of the suspects was arrested on Thursday. The 36-year-old suspect will appear at the Lebowakgomo magistrate's court soon.

It was alleged that the violent scene erupted outside the mine premises at Sefalaolo village after the disgruntled community members attempted to stop mine trucks full of chrome from leaving the area.

Community members who witnessed the incident said security guards who were escorting the trucks as they came out of the mine started shooting randomly at the crowd.

"Five trucks came out of the mine escorted by two cars full of security guards. Botshelo was in the crowd when they [security officers] started shooting. The person who shot him didn't even fire a warning shot to disperse the crowd. He shot directly at the people.

"It was unfortunate Botshelo was there and got hit by the bullet. We did everything we could to save his life but the roads were blocked and we couldn't even get him to the hospital on time," said a community member, who did not want to be named.

Some of the community members in Ga-Mphahlele have been up in arms with the local regent king Kgoshigadi Ngwana-Mohube Phathudi-Mphahlele and his son Malekutu Phathudi-Mphahlele since the mine started operating. They accused the mine owners of operating unlawfully and of being in cahoots with the royal house.

Malekutu was not available for comment at the time of going to press.

Petja will be buried on Saturday.

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