In his first official appearance since being shot in the face while attending a conference in South Africa, Mobile City Councilman C.J. Small greeted students at a Boys and Girls Club summer program paid for by cuts made to the WAVE Transit System.

Councilman C.J. Small greets student at Gilliard Elementary on Monday, after he returned home from South Africa. He was shot in the face after the tour bus he was riding in was ambushed in a suburb of Johannesburg.

Councilman C.J. Small greets student at Gilliard Elementary on Monday, after he returned home from South Africa. He was shot in the face after the tour bus he was riding in was ambushed in a suburb of Johannesburg.

Following the appearance on Monday, Small answered questions pertaining to the shooting incident, which required him to undergo facial surgery at a South African hospital. He returned home over the weekend after the incident late last month, which occurred while he was visiting South Africa for a funeral director’s convention. His travel was paid for personally.

Small said his comments on the incident would have to be limited, as South African authorities continue to investigate the shooting, which is believed to have been a bus hijacking.

Small said the attack occurred on a tour bus he was traveling on. He said it “happened within seconds,” and described his attackers as “young.” According to Small, three people — including his sister and a funeral director from Atlanta — were injured in the attack.

Small said he didn’t realize it at the time, but he was traveling on an “unofficial” tour bus. He added the incident has “opened my eyes” to the importance of public safety because the attack happened in a suburb of Johannesburg called Cleveland, which isn’t very well patrolled by police.

Small’s comments on the incident overshadowed the summer program he was attending, which was funded, in part, by a $700,000 cut to the city’s general fund transfer to McDonald Transit in September — extending the program at Gilliard Elementary School for one more summer.
If the funds hadn’t come from WAVE, Small said he would’ve led fundraising efforts to get the money, like he’d done the previous three years.

Small said he still has questions about how McDonald Transit spends its money. In particular, he questioned the system having resources available for advertisements and other expenses.