Trial date set for man accused of killing schoolgirl Sadia Sukhraj

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DURBAN, November 8 – The man accused of killing nine-year-old Sadia Sukhraj during a botched hijacking attempt in the Chatsworth area in May will begin his trial at the Durban High Court on November 19.

The suspect – 35-year-old Marianhill resident Sbonelo Seni Mkhize – made an appearance in the Durban Magistrate’s Court on Thursday, where the notice of trial was delivered and an indictment presented.

According to the indictment, Mkhize is being 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 is also facing one count of robbery with aggravating circumstances for stealing Shailendra Sukhraj’s car, bag, cell phones, bank cards, keys and cash. Shailendra is Sadia’s father.

The indictment states: “On Monday 28 May 2018, while en route to school in the morning, [Sadia’s] father drove her to her grandparent’s home [in Shallcross]. She was seated in the rear of her father’s grey Hyundai motor vehicle while her father alighted.

“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, whereafter 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 fled on foot but was pursued and apprehended by an off-duty police officer. His accomplice died at the scene while alighting the stolen vehicle 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 caused outrage in the community, with “fed up” residents marching to the local police station demanding action against unacceptable levels of crime and calling for more police to be deployed to the area.

The 1,000 strong crowds were dispersed with stun grenades and rubber bullets after police alleged they were threatened. Twenty people were arrested, heightening tensions, which led to police minister Bheki Cele visiting the area and receiving a list of concerns.

Cele returned to the area two weeks after his first visit and promised that additional vehicles would be delivered to the station and that visible policing would be increased. He also revealed that the station required 16 additional officers, but made no promises on when or if the officers would be dispatched.

At his first appearance, Mkhize stood in the dock bruised, walked with a limp and claimed that police had beaten him. But the prosecution contended that the beating was sustained when angry community members accosted him during his arrest.

– African News Agency (ANA)