Family shock at sentence for killer of FET student

2014-06-24 00:00

CRIES of “There is no justice in this country” and “It isn’t fair” greeted the sentence handed to the killer of FET college student Rashmika Janthielayal yesterday.

Her former boyfriend and fellow student, Claudius Chetty (19), was jailed for 12 years for the “brutal and inhumane” slaying of the 17-year-old.

Rashmika’s mother, Shireen, broke down in tears and reacted angrily when Chetty’s aunt (who did not want to give her name) said his family was sorry for what had happened to Rashmika.

“Sorry is too late … My daughter is dead and she can never come back. That as***le will be in jail for 12 years, but we will be waiting for him when he gets out,” an emotional Janthielayal said before she was led away and comforted by court preparation officer Louann Shuttleworth.

Shireen Janthielayal told The Witness her daughter was afraid of Chetty and stayed home from college a week before the murder to avoid him. But when she returned to write exams, he killed her.

Pleading guilty to the murder charge last month, Chetty admitted he stabbed Rashmika repeatedly in anger at the Northdale FET college campus because she told him she didn’t want to continue their relationship.

Both were students at the college.

The postmortem showed Rashmika was stabbed 14 times.

Regional court magistrate Sibusiso Mngomezulu said yesterday he didn’t believe Chetty was genuinely remorseful. He said Chetty had stabbed Rashmika in front of eyewitnesses and the state’s case against him was overwhelming, so he’d had no option but to plead guilty.

He said the postmortem and photographs of the crime scene revealed that Chetty subjected Rashmika to “inhumane treatment and extreme brutality”.

“You killed her in cold blood when she was not posing any danger to you. One would have expected you to control your anger because she had been your girlfriend. But your actions show that when you committed this offence you adopted the attitude that if you can’t have her nobody will,” said Mngomezulu.

However, he took into account that Chetty was 18 at the time, that his youth may have contributed to his “error of judgment”, that he had no previous convictions and could be rehabilitated.

He also took into account in his favour that he has been in custody for a year. The state did not submit that the murder had been premeditated and the minimum sentence prescribed was therefore 15 years’ imprisonment for a first offender.

“Our hearts will bleed forever,” said Shirley Ramsahai, a relative with whom Rashmika was living with when she was killed. She and other family members said they believed a 12-year jail sentence for her murder was not fair or just.

“She left my house that morning looking so beautiful. Her hug was so warm. Little did I know she would never come home,” said Ramsahai.

Rashmika’s father, Vicky, said justice wasn’t done.

Shireen Janthielayal said she was not going to give up and accept the sentence. “We will fight in whatever way we can. He isn’t even remorseful. It took him a whole year to decide to plead guilty,” she said, referring to the fact that Chetty initially applied for bail over several months and said he was pleading not guilty. I’m told he could be out in five years’ time.

“He lives, but my daughter is lost forever,” she said.

A poem to a lost sister

In an emotional victim impact statement handed to court, Santhisha Janthielayal (16) wrote a poem to her “sister in heaven”.

“A sister’s love is so special in oh so many ways. Now miles stretch between us and minutes turn to days. We’ve shared so much as children, the tears, the joys, the pain.

“A lifetime spent together those memories remain. In times gone by we’ve pondered the paths our lives have taken knowing that in spite of this our sister love unshaken.

“A sister’s love is special in ways that are unspoken. Still that binding force exists our sister love unbroken.”

Shireen Janthielayal wrote that the whole family “lives from day to day because we have to”.

“The first sight that comes to me is seeing her lying on the floor in a pool of blood. That sight will haunt me forever. Death leaves a void that no one can heal. All the words in the world cannot express the hurt and loss that we feel at our baby girl,” she said.

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