Domestic worker’s conviction confirmed

2010-05-05 00:00

HIGH court judges of appeal in ­Pietermaritzburg yesterday confirmed the robbery conviction and eight-year jail sentence imposed on former domestic worker Happiness Dudu Sikakhane, who helped commit a robbery at her Durban North employer’s home in July 2008.

According to evidence led at her trial in Durban, Sikakhane and her cousin, John, who worked as gardener at the property, were both involved in the R565 000 robbery at the home of Selvarani Moodley on July 24, 2008. They took valuable items of jewellery, U.S. dollars, clothing and a car.

Judge Wendy Hughes-Madondo with Judge Malcolm Wallis yesterday rejected submissions that Sikakhane was not involved in the robbery and commented that she had made no effort to call the police or press a panic button when she had opportunity to do so, according to her own version of events.

Immediately after the robbery she vanished with the robbers and her room was found to have been cleared out completely. All her cosmetics, clothing and goods were gone.

Another factor pointing to her involvement was that the robbers allowed her to leave the kitchen while they were holding her employer captive with a sickle at her throat, without making any attempt to stop her.

The appeal court found that Sikakhane’s evidence at her trial had been “so riddled with improbabilities” and contradictions that it could not possibly be true.

On the other hand, the court found Moodley’s testimony to be clear and satisfactory.

According to Moodley’s evidence, her daughter had fallen asleep upstairs and she had left her ill three-year-old son in Sikakhane’s care in the kitchen while she fetched medication and water from the scullery.

There she was confronted by two men, one of whom held a sickle to her throat. The men met up with the gardener, John, and all of them returned to the kitchen.

Moodley agreed to hand over money and jewellery to the robbers. At that point, Sikakhane left the kitchen and Moodley did not see her again.

Once they had taken the jewellery, Moodley was left tied to a chair downstairs and her two children were brought there. While trying to keep them calm, she could hear the intruders ransacking the house.

When everything was quiet, she managed to free herself, locked the doors and pressed a panic button. She discovered the phone lines had been cut.

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