Nine-year-old Leo Williams, who was shot on Friday, 31 July during service delivery protests in Laingville along the West Coast was taken off life support after doctors told the family there is no more they can do to improve his condition.
The news broke on Tuesday when the family consented to switch off the last machine.
According to reports, Leo was shot in the head while watching TV at home. Multiple bullets, allegedly fired by police officers, went through the walls of corrugated iron after 20:00 that night. Young Leo was found by his guardian and was taken to a hospital in Vredenburg but shortly after he was transferred to the Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital.
Doctors at the Red Cross Hospital reportedly tried to execute an operation to remove the bullet but found that it would cause further damage. A specialist was approached to find out whether the bullet could be moved and Leo had been undergoing tests to assess brain activity.
The Daily Maverick reported that on Monday, 10 August, Leo’s biological mother, Lucille Williams, and legal guardian, Cathy Thomas, were told by doctors that they were unable to improve Leo’s condition. Williams and Thomas consented to Leo being taken off life support but did not report when it will be done. They also requested that the bullet is removed from his head and sent for ballistic testing.
On Wednesday, 12 August, staff member Felicia Lottering at the E.J. Malgarte Primary School, which Leo attended, told VK News that the 9-year-old was still in critical condition.
Community leader Thyrone Williams told reporters that the protests in the area and the shooting of Leo could have been avoided if Saldanha Bay Mayor Marius Koen took the concerns of residents seriously and had accepted the memorandum presented to his office.
The Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) is currently conducting an investigation to determine who instructed the officers to start shooting as well as who fired the shot that hit Leo.