Durban - Veteran policeman Sagren Malayan hugged his sobbing, 15-year-old daughter before walking down to the holding cells of the Durban Regional Court on Tuesday on his way to prison that would be his home for the next 15 years.
Moments earlier, the 42-year-old former policeman, a warrant officer at the Reunion SAPS until last year, was sentenced for murder
On the opposite end of the court, Julie Govender thought of her eldest child, 20-year-old Dean Romano Govender, who Malayan shot after an altercation outside Hillgrove Secondary School in Newlands West in October 2012.
During arguments for sentencing, the mother of three told the court the incident could have been avoided had Malayan slapped her son and brought him home instead of taking out his gun and firing shots.
She had asked magistrate Anand Maharaj to impose a life sentence, saying Malayan had not shown any remorse for his actions and had also not apologised to her since the shooting.
Her son had attended a party at the school premises.
Malayan, who had pleaded not guilty to the murder, saying the shooting was in self-defence, told the court he had gone to the school, where his family was holding a function, to defuse a situation after a group of youngsters, which included Dean, had become unruly.
He claimed a squabble broke out and that Dean attacked him with a knife. He said he pulled out his firearm, cocked it and fired two warning shots in the air – not intending to harm the youngster, but to scare him.
The bullet struck Dean’s right arm, penetrated his chest and caused internal injuries.
In handing down judgment in July, Maharaj found it improbable that Malayan had fired warning shots while being charged at with a knife at such a short distance. He also said the former policeman failed to secure the knife, which was not found at the scene.
A probation officer and correctional services reports were requested for sentencing.
Yesterday, the packed court gallery heard that Malayan was dismissed from the SAPS in March last year because of the offence.
Probation officer America Zibi reported that despite his conviction, Malayan maintain-ed his innocence.
She said a period of imprisonment was unavoidable due to the seriousness of the offence.
Zibi had interviewed Malayan’s family and said the father and daughter lived with Malayan’s brother and sister-in-law in Newlands West, and he that he had begun working for his brother’s security company after his dismissal.
His brother and sister-in-law agreed to care for his daughter should he be imprisoned. It was also reported that his daughter was happier with them than her mother, the court heard.
Her parents are divorced.
Zibi said that a social worker would be monitoring her placement.
Malayan’s attorney, Viresh Singh, argued that the father-daughter bond was an example of substantial and compelling circumstances to stray from the minimum prescribed sentence of 15 years.
He called for a five-year prison sentence, while state prosecutor Kuveshni Pillay argued for a maximum sentence of 20 years.
She said the circumstances submitted by Singh did not constitute substantial and compelling circumstances.
Govender testified that she was still devastated by her son’s death.
She spoke of how her second son, Sean, wrote his final matric exams days after his brother’s death. She described Dean as a father figure to her two younger children, as her husband had died 10 years ago, and as a joint breadwinner.
Maharaj considered Govender’s loss as a mother and also looked at the rights of Malayan’s minor child.
He said from Zibi’s report, Malayan’s daughter appeared to be comfortable with her uncle and aunt, and was well cared for.
“Perhaps if (Malayan) had entered into a plea agreement I would have accepted a charge of culpable homicide. I’m not persuaded the factors presented are substantial and compelling. (Malayan’s) daughter can still visit him in jail, while a mother’s child is dead,” the magistrate said. “The breaking of the father-daughter bond is unfortunate.”
He granted Singh’s application for leave to appeal Malayan’s conviction and sentence.
Pillay did not oppose the application, saying a higher court would come to the same conclusion.
Maharaj, however, denied Malayan’s application to have his bail extended, as he was not convinced this would be in the interest of justice.