Murder robbed son of ‘the most perfect role model’

2012-07-30 00:00

PIETERMARITZBURG murder victim and well-known drag race enthusiast Kushendran “Kush” Acharrie was a devoted family member and father of two young children, a skilled BMW specialist and a man respected for his honesty and integrity.

These were the words of his sister, Sash Naicker, who gave emotional evidence on Friday at the trial of Mondli Maphanga and Solethu Maduna. The pair were found guilty by acting high court judge Igna Stretch of Acharrie’s murder and of robbing him and his wife, Pratishta, on the night of October 21, 2010.

The couple had been out celebrating Pratisha’s birthday when the red sports car, a modified BMW, they were driving attracted the attention of the accused who followed them with the intention of robbing them of the vehicle. During her evidence in the trial, Pratishta Acharrie described how the robbers shot her husband in his car outside his business, Kush Conversions, in St Andrew’s Street in the early hours of the morning, dragged him out of the vehicle and dumped him on the road.

The court found he was shot after reaching for his firearm.

After being unable to start the car the men fled with Pratishta’s cellphone and her husband’s gun.

Maphanga was also convicted of robbing another motorist, Lema Abebe, of his Toyota Corolla and cellphone at the intersection of Longmarket and Scott Streets about 17 hours after Acharrie was killed.

The Corolla was recovered following a high-speed chase by police in Imbali, which resulted in Maphanga’s arrest.

State advocate Dheelan Naidoo described the robbery as “breathtakingly brazen” as it took place at 5 pm in peak hour traffic and was committed using the firearm stolen from Acharrie.

Naidoo urged the court to impose life sentences on the two accused for Acharrie’s murder and to lengthy jail terms for the robbery offences.

Legal aid defence lawyer Kelvin Singh submitted that there were compelling and substantial circumstances that justified the court imposing less than life imprisonment for the murder.

He said it was noteworthy that Acharrie died of a single gunshot wound (which penetrated his heart and lung), indicating that the attackers did not use gratuitous violence.

He said Acharrie was shot because he had tried to get to his firearm. If he had not done so, he might well be alive today, he submitted.

He also asked the court to take into account, for the second robbery, that Maphanga had suffered dog bite injuries during the course of his arrest.

Ironically, in her evidence, Sash Naicker told the court that one of the saddest things was that her brother had always advised family members to hand over their property in the event of a hijacking or robbery.

She began to cry as she paid tribute to her brother. She told the court that his five-year-old son had asked God to send his fathr back and at times sobbed uncontrollably for him.

“He’s lost the greatest, most perfect role model in his life … His [Kush’s] baby daughter [two years] will never know her dad except for the photos she holds lovingly and talks to,” she said.

Sentence is expected to be handed down on September 3.

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