Heartbroken, traumatised and disturbed: Sadia Sukhraj's family weeps as murder accused is found guilty

2019-06-24 16:50
The family of Sadia Sukhraj in the KwaZulu-Natal High Court in Durban on Monday. (Kaveel Singh, News24)

The family of Sadia Sukhraj in the KwaZulu-Natal High Court in Durban on Monday. (Kaveel Singh, News24)

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Friends and family of Sadia Sukhraj, the 9-year-old Durban girl who was killed in a botched hijacking, wept as the sole accused in the matter was found guilty of her murder.

In a statement released shortly after court proceedings, family spokesperson Reverend Cyril Pillay, said they welcomed the judgment.

"Shailendra and Lorraine are heartbroken, traumatised, emotionally disturbed and in deep state of mourning. The provoking circumstances surrounding the hijacking and the subsequent tragic fatality of an innocent young girl is an unbearable emotional pain."

Sadia's father, Shailendra Sukhraj, declined to comment after proceedings. Family members wept and hugged prosecutor Kelvin Singh.

Pillay said the family respected the judicial system and thanked the public "for their passionate and ongoing endearments towards the bereaved family".

Accused 'knew the risk'

Judge Esther Steyn said that Sibonelo Mkhize, 39, knew the risk he was taking when he decided to arm himself before robbing Sukhraj of his vehicle.

While it was Sadia's father's bullet that killed his daughter, Steyn found that the aggravated circumstances from the robbery left Mkhize liable for murder.

"[The assailants] were reckless of the consequences that would ensue. It is significant that the accused and his accomplice decided to be armed at the time of the robbery. It speaks of the fact that they foresaw retaliation and decided to have the upper hand in shooting any opposition they might encounter."

Steyn said that Mkhize's claim that he was never at the scene of the crime or part of the hijacking and robbery was false.

"Off-duty Warrant Officer Hemant Raghoonundan never lost sight of the accused, from the time he started running away from the vehicle until he was apprehended. More than one witness implicated the accused."

She added that Mkhize had been dishonest during proceedings.

"During his testimony, the accused was inconsistent, evasive and economical with the truth."

'Robbed at gunpoint'

Steyn said that, in finding Mkhize guilty, the aggravating circumstances of the incident were considered.

"He robbed the victim at gunpoint and should accordingly be held accountable for the murders that followed the incident."

Mkhize killed Sadia during a botched hijacking on May 28, 2018. He pleaded not guilty to murder and robbery with aggravating circumstances.

His accomplice, Siyabonga Bulose, was killed while fleeing from the scene. On the day of the incident, the two demanded car keys from Sadia's father at gunpoint.

He threw the keys at them and, while both were fleeing the scene with Sadia inside the vehicle, Shailendra pulled out his licensed firearm and fired several gunshots at the driver.

The Grade 4 pupil at Everest Primary was shot in her abdomen and was taken to Chatsmed Hospital, where she later succumbed to her injuries.

Her cause of death was a gunshot wound to the chest. Bulose died immediately after the car came to a stop. His cause of death was described as a penetrating gunshot wound to the pelvis.

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Read more on:    sadia sukhraj  |  crime  |  court
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