Tears and heartbreak at Sadia Sukhraj funeral

2018-05-29 17:47
The Chatsworth community pays its final respects to Sadia Sukhraj. (Kaveel Singh, News24)

The Chatsworth community pays its final respects to Sadia Sukhraj. (Kaveel Singh, News24)

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A never-ending sea of teary-eyed mourners came together in Chatsworth on Tuesday to remember the nine-year-old KwaZulu-Natal girl, Sadia Sukhraj, who was killed after a botched hijacking.

With heavy rains came continual tears as women, children, hardened police officers, and even politicians, grieved for little Sadia at the Christian Revival Centre.

From DA leader Mmusi Maimane to Human Settlements MEC Ravi Pillay, there was not a dry eye in sight.

Sadia's father, well-known Pastor Shailendra Sukhraj, was in the car with her during the incident and is believed to have shot at the hijackers as they drove off with his daughter.

READ: Relatives, mourners visit home of 9-year-old Durban girl shot in botched hijacking

The hijackers crashed into a truck shortly after fleeing. One assailant was arrested, another killed and the third is still on the run.  

"We will leave no stone unturned to rid our area of crime and its criminals. Government will escalate a more effective status in combating crime," Dr Paul Lutchman, a close family friend, declared at the service.

During the church ceremony, a teary-eyed resident told News24: "How can this happen? How can people be this cruel to attack a family? What is this country coming to?"

Family members, however, showed strong support for police as high-ranking officials attended the ceremony.

"The police are our friends. We want to tell them that you have our full support," Pastor Cyril Pillay, a family relative, said.

In an interview after the ceremony, Pillay further called for calm from the community.

READ: Durban police arrest 20 at protest over 9-year-old hijacking victim's death

"We have to use cool heads. The perpetrator is the person that must be targeted, not the police. I would, together with religious leaders, support the police. They are our mothers and fathers and sisters and children who are trying to work hard. This is a consequence of high rates of crime and unemployment in the country."

Pillay said that, while there was a lot of emotion behind the death, "we believe in the justice system". He said there would be a contingent of community members in court.

"We will make our presence known, but we must not start a war that we cannot end. The community must be warm-hearted."

Pillay added that the family were struggling to cope with the loss.

"The family is traumatised. On Sunday night, I was with Sadia. I prayed, hugged and kissed her. They are extremely traumatised."

Community in mourning

For at least two hours, thousands of mourners from all races, cultures and religions paid their respects to the innocent young girl.

At the burial ceremony, rain pelted down as family members sang church songs and stood close together, constantly fighting back their tears.

As her body was being lowered, Sadia's father Shailendra held his wife tightly, nodding his head from side to side, visibly struggling to cope with the grief.

Finally, doves were released signifying a hope for peaceful rest on the young girl.

"She at peace now," a woman in the crowd whispered.

Read more on:    durban  |  crime
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