Woman who ran over five-year-old given suspended sentence and house arrest

2010-11-03 00:00

THE mother of five-year-old Roche Ramkalaway described the heartbreak his death brought to their family in a victim impact statement handed in at the trial of Nirmala Muniraj (43) yesterday.

Muniraj — a mother of three children — pleaded guilty to culpable homicide for causing the child’s death when her vehicle knocked him over on October 14 last year.

Roche and his sister were among the children Muniraj transported to and from school daily. In a statement to court she said the siblings had alighted and she had seen them standing on the side of the pavement.

“After a few moments I decided to proceed. I engaged my vehicle in gear and attempted to proceed, when in doing so I heard a bump. I immediately stopped … only to realise that I had collided with the deceased,” she said.

She rushed the child to Northdale Hospital where he was declared dead.

Magistrate Dieter Schultz yesterday sentenced Muniraj to three years’ imprisonment wholly suspended for five years on condition she submits to three years under correctional supervision, including house arrest.

Muniraj will be permitted to go to work, go shopping and leave the house for religious services or medical treatment, but needs permission from her supervisor to leave the magisterial district.

She will also undergo suitable rehabilitation programmes, and perform 16 hours community service for the entire period of correctional supervision.

Schultz took into account in mitigation that Muniraj pleaded guilty, was remorseful and did what she could for the child after the accident.

The incident would stay with her for the rest of her life, he said.

He said it was aggravating that her actions resulted in the loss of a very young life.

No sentence could bring the child back, and having read the statement handed in by the boy’s parents the court sympathised with them.

“One has to just work through it, and life goes on,” he added.

In a victim impact statement, Roche’s mother, Kavitha Panday, said his death has left a hole in their hearts.

“You will never feel that emptiness unless you have lost a loved one yourself,” she said.

She said the family are suffering from “deep depression” and are unable to carry on with their plans.

When they see other boys of Roche’s age they “get emotional”.

Roche’s sister, who witnessed the accident, was affected the most and always talks about how much she misses him and loved him. “She dreams about him and has nightmares about the accident. She cries in her sleep …”

Panday said the family have not had counselling because they cannot afford it. “I can forgive, but I cannot forget the loss that we have suffered,” she said.

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