‘We killed Raelin to silence him’

2009-03-27 00:00

Zamo Eric Hadebe and Mzwakhe Lucky Zuma, murderers of a promising, lively boy of six, Raelin Devnarain, and merciless attackers of his mother, Pradantha Devnarain, yesterday admitted that they bludgeoned them in order silence their screams. The men were afraid the mother and child would alert neighbours that they were being robbed.

Jailing them both for life for the murder of Raelin, 20 years for the attempted murder of Pradantha, and 15 years for aggravated robbery, Judge Anton van Zyl said it is difficult to visualise more heinous acts than these crimes.

The postmortem report on Raelin gives a long list of injuries to his head and body. There was bleeding on the left and right brain and oedema of the whole brain.

In his guilty plea, Zuma said: “Hadebe and I bludgeoned a young child to death by hitting him with a hammer all over his body.

“Hadebe and I also hit Pradantha all over her body with the same hammer. I stabbed her a number of times in the chest with a knife.

“The attacks took place when Hadebe and I were robbing them of their belongings. We managed to steal the contents of her handbag [including bank cards], a VW Golf and other items, all of which were recovered.

“We acted unlawfully and intentionally … we knew very well that either or both of them could be seriously injured or die from our attack.

“I admit that the attacks resulted in the death of Raelin and serious injury to Pradantha.”

Van Zyl said that although they pleaded guilty, which, the defence argued, was a sign of remorse, the pleas were only made in the face of overwhelming evidence pointing to their guilt. They did not come to the police to confess before they were arrested. Their claims of remorse were more akin to self-pity.

He said that if the death of Raelin was not intended or desired, the ferocity of the attack on him took one’s breath away.

Hadebe, who had done odd jobs for Pradantha, and Zuma gained entrance to her home on the pretext of picking up a stove that she had said Hadebe could have. The motive for the attacks was simply greed, but the reason for the gratuitous violence is not known.

Both were working and earning at the time and while they were not wealthy, they were not in need or suffering.

Either of them could have subdued both mother and child without resorting to that level of violence.

“The manner in which they assaulted them was most shocking. Money was demanded from her and when she failed to hand over enough, she was stabbed. When her child was alarmed by her screams he was bludgeoned to death with a hammer. To bludgeon anyone with a hammer is brutal, let alone a child.”

Their motive could have been to escape detection. Van Zyl said both accused are fathers. He dismissed an application to appeal against the sentences.

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