The man accused of killing nine-year-old Sadia Sukhraj in a botched hijacking last year was found guilty of murder at the Durban High Court on Monday.
Thirty-five-year-old Marianhill resident Sibonelo Seni Mkhize will be sentenced on Tuesday.
Mkhize was charged with a common purpose for two counts of murder – one for the death of Sadia and one for the death of his accomplice, Siyabonga Bulose.
He was also facing one count of robbery with aggravating circumstances for stealing the car, bag, cellphones, bank cards, keys, and cash from Sadia’s father – Shailendra – during the hijacking.
He was found guilty on all counts.
Shailendra and his wife Lorraine were in court while Judge Esther Steyn delivered her finding. The family broke into tears when the verdict was read.
Judge Steyn said it was “significant” that Mkhize and his deceased accomplice decided to arm themselves for the robbery. She said this indicated that the men “foresaw retaliation” and were willing to shoot at any opposition they may have encountered.
During the trial, it was learnt 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 daughter in the vehicle.
Judge Steyn said that because Mkhize had robbed the family at gunpoint, he should be held accountable for the murders that followed.
Sadia died on May 28 2018. While en route to school in the morning, Shailindra 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 another assailant… 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. His accomplice 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