Sbonelo Mkhize with his lawyer Sizwe Masondo at the Durban High Court. Picture: Bongani Mbatha/African News Agency (ANA)
Durban - Sbonelo Mkhize, the man found guilty of killing nine-year-old Sadia Sukhraj in a botched hijacking in Shallcross last year has been given life in prison and 15 years for robbery.

Judge Esther Steyn handed down sentence in the Durban High Court shortly before 11am today.

It came after   a harrowing emotional ride for Sadia Sukhraj’s mother Lorraine emerged on when she detailed her experience of her daughter’s death in a victim assessment report read out in the Durban High Court.

In it she said she had constant flashbacks to May 28 last year when Sadia was killed. She was 9 years old.

“That day, part of me as a mother died. Every day I have to drop my son off and every day I’m reminded that this road, the gate, the pavement is where my life changed. The flashbacks on some days are so overwhelming I feel like I can’t breathe,” she said.

Last year, Sadia was caught up in a botched hijacking in Shallcross, outside Durban. Within hours of the incident, news had spread and created an uproar in the community of Chatsworth, which has had enough of crime.

Shailendra Shukraj in court. Picture: Bongani Mbatha African News Agency (ANA)

Sbonelo Mkhize, who was caught after the hijacking, was beaten up by angry community members. His accomplice, Siyabonga Bulose, died at the scene after being shot in the hip by Sadia’s father, Shailendra Sukhraj, as the two men tried to make their getaway after stealing his vehicle.

Sukhraj said not a day went by that she didn’t think about her daughter or cry for her. She said her daughter was larger than life and loved singing. Sadia’s voice would fill the house and she yearned to hear that voice again.

She described her daughter as someone who had empathy for others at a young age and was never demanding.

“The school bag Sadia had that day is still unopened. It’s as it was that day she was going to school. Her room is still the same. I can’t bring myself to part with or change anything. I find myself going into her room and being among her things,” Sukhraj said.

Sadia’s death meant that Sukhraj wouldn’t see her daughter go to high school, matriculate, go to university or get married and have children of her own. She didn’t wish this on anyone.

Too many parents were burying their children across the country because of crime, greed and corruption, Sukhraj said. “Families shouldn’t be torn apart by the actions of others.”

Parents Shailendra and Lorraine Shukraj. Picture: Bongani Mbatha African News Agency (ANA)

As her statement was being read out by State advocate Kelvin Singh, Sukhraj held her husband’s hand.

After the victim impact assessment report was read out, Shailendra took to the stand, saying his daughter was one in a million, and a million in one.

Asked by Singh what sentence Mkhize should get, Shailendra said: “Maximum sentence.”

Defence advocate Sizwe Masondo did not cross-examine Shailendra, but argued that his client should not be sacrificed at the altar of deterrence.

Singh argued that Mkhize had shown no remorse and had been recalcitrant towards authorities. He pointed out that Mkhize had a previous conviction for receiving stolen goods and stealing petrol. He was sentenced to seven years’ imprisonment, two years of which were suspended.

Bulose had four pending cases against him involving armed robbery. “You are the company you keep,” Singh said.

Daily News