Durban - A man with a history of having epileptic seizures has been given a R20000 fine, a suspended 10-year jail term and barred from driving for five years after he ran over an Isipingo pupil, killing her.
What Leeash Madhan had done was one step away from murder, Durban magistrate FB Mohamed said in passing sentence.
“You negligently drove a vehicle when you knew you were not supposed to. You willingly got into the vehicle knowing your condition, and that there was a possibility that someone else and yourself could have been injured,” Mohamed said.
“It is also clear that a family is still traumatised by the loss of their 18-year-old child, all due to your actions. This is an extremely traumatic situation. I can only imagine what her mother feels.”
Strelitzia Secondary School pupil Halima Bibi Shaik had just written her first examination paper in September last year when she was struck by a vehicle while walking home with her two friends. She died at the scene.
While Madhan, 36, a first time offender who had pleaded guilty to a charge of culpable homicide, was sorry, Halima’s family is furious.
“After knocking our baby sister dead, all he got was a measly fine,” her elder sister Zakiyya told POST last week. “Is that the price of one’s life? He (Madhan) entered our life as an unwanted guest who destroyed our happiness, our joy and took away someone we love so deeply. This pain will never subside.”
Weeping profusely as they heard the judgment, her mother Fathima Bibi said: “I am very disappointed with the court and the justice system of South Africa. I was robbed of my young child. His (Madhan’s) life carries on, how do we carry on? When will we get closure? I am very sad, disappointed and hurt.”
Fathima Bibi has been on medication since the accident so that she can sleep at least for a few hours at a time.
Her husband suffered a heart attack after the accident, the court heard.
Halima’s aunt, Zarina Assan, said it was an “unfair judgment”.
“We wanted justice; this is not justice We lost a child. A five-year suspended sentence is nothing compared to the loss of a child. It is not fair on us. She was just 18 years old. She had a career ahead of her, a straight A student, whose dreams were dashed.”
Defence attorney Khulekani Mkhanya, of Anand Nepaul Attorneys, said Madhan had been suffering with epileptic seizures since 2011.
“He has had numerous attacks throughout the years, and he had suffered one on the day of the accident, but does not recall what had occurred as he had lost consciousness after the accident.”
During mitigation of sentence, Mkhanya said his client was the breadwinner of his family.
“An employee of Toyota for the past 11 years, Madhan assisted his family with whom he lived, as well contributed towards his sister’s tertiary education fees, as she is currently studying law.”
Speaking on behalf of the Madhan family, attorney Anand Nepaul said they had tendered apologies “from the beginning”, but the Shaiks were not receptive to this.
“The family have tendered to make amends again. The fact that he had pleaded guilty and made a full disclosure is indication of how sorry they are about the loss of the young child. They also feel the pain, as they grew up together, with the two fathers known to each other and they live in a very closely knit community.”
Nepaul said there would be attempts to seek counselling for the families. “My clients have suggested a local moulana to assist. I have asked the prosecutors to assist the families in getting this help in a controlled fashion.”