Racer’s killers get life

2012-10-25 00:00

ACTING Judge Igna Stretch threw the book at the killers of a well-known KwaZulu-Natal drag racer yesterday, sending them to jail for a long stretch.

The two killers, Mondli Maphanga and Solethu Maduna, who murdered Kushendran Acharrie for his souped-up red BMW, both got life behind bars and an additional 45 and 15 years respectively.

Maphanga received the additional 45 years for the robbery of Acharrie and his wife, Pratishta, and that of another motorist, Lema Abebe, using the gun he stole from Acharrie, and unlawful possession of a pistol and ammunition.

Maduna got the additional 15 years for his role in the robbery of the Acharrie couple, of Pietermaritzburg.

The acting judge said the court would show mercy by ordering that all the sentences imposed should run concurrently.

Acharrie was shot dead when he and his wife were accosted outside his business, Kush Conversions, in St Andrews Street in the Pietermaritzburg CBD in the early hours of October 21, 2010, after the couple had been out celebrating Pratishta’s birthday.

According to evidence, their modified red sports model BMW had attracted the attention of the killers, who spotted it at a local garage and followed them in order to hijack the vehicle.

Acharrie, a skilled BMW specialist and well-known drag race enthusiast, was shot when he reached for his firearm. He was then pulled out of the car and dumped at the roadside. The attackers tried but failed to start the vehicle, and made off with Acharrie’s firearm and his wife’s cellphone.

Maphanga was found to have used the stolen firearm to hijack Abebe later that day, brazenly firing a shot and brandishing the weapon in broad daylight, the acting judge said.

Stretch said Acharrie’s murder was motivated by the men’s greed and lust for material possessions that didn’t belong to them.

“I certainly don’t see it as mitigating that you cold-bloodedly shot the deceased because he tried to protect his wife and his possessions,” she told them. Stretch said Acharrie was killed because they desired his car, for which he had worked hard. She said she could not even attempt to imagine the scars that have been left on what was a close-knit and caring family.

Both Pratishta Acharrie, who had had to witness her husband being shot, and Abebe were severely traumatised by their ordeals.

Acharrie’s widow told The Witness afterwards she was “glad” that the killers got life in prison as there was no better sentence that could be imposed. However, it would not bring her husband and father of her two children back.

“I try to keep his memory alive for my children,” she said.

Her son still cries for his father and their daughter, now two years old, only knows him from photographs.

Kush Acharrie’s sister, Sash Naicker — who previously testified in aggravation of sentence — said the family was happy with the life sentences imposed, but quite perturbed that the court had granted Maduna’s application for leave to appeal against his conviction.

She said by keeping the killers behind bars for life, it was hoped others would be spared from going through the same pain as their family.

In her earlier evidence, Naicker highlighted her late brother’s devotion to his family.

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