Murder accused Sibonelo Mkhize. Picture: Leon Lestrade/African News Agency (ANA) Archives

Durban – The man accused of killing nine-year-old Sadia Sukhraj during a botched hijacking attempt in the Chatsworth area in May has applied for Legal Aid, the Durban High Court heard on Monday.

Looking relaxed, 35-year-old Marianhill resident Sibonelo Mkhize appeared with civilian clothing thrown over his correctional services jumpsuit. 

“I would like to apply for Legal Aid,” Mkhize told Judge Shyam Gyanda in isiZulu.

Supporters of the Sukhraj family filled the gallery. The matter was postponed to December 3.

“By 3 December you will already know who that representative is and on that date a trial date will be arranged. You are to remain in custody until then,” said Gyanda.

Before Mkhize appeared in court, journalists were told the trial could begin as early as February.

According to the indictment, Mkhize is being charged with 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, bankcards, 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, 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 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.

African News Agency/ANA