The emotional funeral service of 9-year-old Sardia Sukhraj in Chatsworth. Picture: Leon Lestrade. African News Agency/ANA
They buried murdered Shallcross schoolgirl Sadia Sukhraj in a little white coffin on Tuesday and the entire community of Chatsworth wept inconsolably.

The grief over the senseless killing of the 9-year-old girl - shot dead in a hijacking while on her way to school - was so palpable and overwhelming that it reverberated far beyond the boundaries of the Durban township.

It was shared by people in communities Sadia had probably never heard of in her growing days.

But they wept for her because they had something in common with the people of Chatsworth - a welling sense of anger and frustration that criminals are getting away with murder these days.

What’s even more disturbing is the increasing number of little children who have become victims of this endemic crime wave.

Little Sadia, a bubbly Grade 4 pupil, had dreams of joining the ministry, like her father. But those have now been shattered by a bullet.

What’s probably noteworthy in this case is the unprecedented levels of anger and frustration the killing triggered among local residents.

Despite their long history of activism against apartheid, the predominantly Indian community in Chatsworth has in more recent years been largely docile, absorbed in their own day-to-day lives and challenges.

I recall social scientist and writer, Thomas Blom Hansen, once describing the demeanour of the Indian community in Chatsworth: “They looked at the newly emerging South Africa from a slight distance thinking themselves disempowered and marginal, and keeping their heads down.”

Well, all that changed on Monday morning. Out came the placards, loudhailers and tyres as several thousand men, women and children marched angrily to the Chatsworth Central police station demanding urgent police action against criminals.

The police retaliated by firing rubber bullets and stun grenades into the crowd but the protesters stood their ground.

What’s urgently needed is for community leaders and the police to come together and start talking about how they are going to deal with this crippling crime wave, and launch a united approach.

If residents and police can achieve that, Sadia’s death will not have been in vain.

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