Sibonelo Seni Mkhize was handed a life sentence for the murder of nine-year-old Sadia Sukhraj, who died during a botched hijacking in the Chatsworth area of Durban last year.
Found guilty for the murder Sadia Sukhraj
Mkhize was found guilty for the murder of Sadia and of his accomplice in the failed hijacking, Siyabonga Bulose. He had been charged with common purpose for both killings.
He was further sentenced to 15 years in prison for robbery with aggravating circumstances.
Handing down the sentence at the Durban High Court, Judge Esther Steyn said she was mindful that it would not bring back the life of the beautiful child.
Right to life should be protected
Steyn said the case was a reminder that the right to life was sacred and should be protected.
Addressing the media, Sadia’s father, Shailendra, said he welcomed the sentence.
“We had full confidence in the justice system. I just want to thank the investigating officer for his brilliant detective work and the prosecutor for his remarkable effort,” said Shailendra.
During the trial, it was learned via a ballistic report that Shailendra had fired the bullet that killed the child as he was trying to stop the men driving off with his hijacked vehicle with Sadia inside.
Steyn said during Monday’s conviction hearing that because Mkhize had robbed the family at gunpoint, he should be held accountable for the murders that followed.
She said during sentencing that the young girl must have been terrified in her last moments.
Sadia died on 28 May, 2018, with her killing making national headlines.
While en route to school in the morning, Shailendra drove her to her grandparent’s home in Shallcross, near Chatsworth. She was seated in the rear of her father’s vehicle when he alighted.
According to the indictment: “Whilst in the stationary motor vehicle at her grandparent’s driveway, the accused and [Bulose]…accosted her father.
“The assailants were armed and demanded the car keys from her father at gunpoint. He threw the car keys to them, where after they both boarded the vehicle.
“Whilst both assailants were fleeing the scene in his motor vehicle with his daughter inside, he fired several gunshots towards the driver with his licensed firearm.”
The car came to a stop after crashing into another vehicle and Mkhize allegedly fled on foot but was pursued and apprehended by an off-duty police officer. Bulose died at the scene from gunshot wounds to the pelvis.
Sadia was rushed to Chatsmed Hospital where she was declared dead, having sustained gunshot wounds to the chest.
The child’s death sparked outrage in Chatsworth, with police minister Bheki Cele having to visit the area to deal with what residents said was excessively high levels of crime and an inadequately manned police station.
– African News Agency (ANA); Editing by Lindiz van Zilla