The Durban High Court has found Sibonelo Mkhize guilty on two counts of murder and one of robbery with aggravating circumstances. This is in relation to the murder of nine-year-old Sadia Sukhraj and Mkhize’s accomplice to the crime, Siyabonga Blose. The young child was killed as a result of a gunshot wound to the chest after her father’s vehicle was hijacked in Chatsworth, south of Durban, in May last year. Sukhraj was still strapped in and taken with the vehicle.
In delivering her judgment to a packed courtroom, mainly made up of members of the Sukhraj family, Judge Esther Steyn said Mkhize formed a common partnership with his accomplice, Siyabonga Blose to rob Sadia’s father, Shailendra Sukhraj. The two died as a result of gunshot wounds sustained after Sukhraj fired several shots at the vehicle in an attempt to stop it and save his young daughter. Sukhraj went to his mother-in-law’s house in Shallcross, Chatsworth to drop off his baby, before taking Sadia to school. He was approached on the driveway by two armed men, who held him at gunpoint and demanded the keys to his vehicle.
In his testimony during the trial, Sukhraj said he tossed the keys fearing for the life of his family. He told the court that he immediately ran into the home to fetch his licensed firearm and then fired a number of shots at the vehicle, attempting to halt it and save his child from the robbers. As a result, one of the robbers, Siyabonga Blose, who was in the front passenger seat as well as Sadia who was strapped in at the back of the vehicle were both injured and killed.
Mkhize, who denied the charges against him, says he was buying dagga at the time the crime was committed. In recapping the testimonies by all witnesses, Judge Steyn told the court that three of the witnesses didn’t know the accused prior to the incident but they all testified that he was found in possession of a black handbag that was in the vehicle when it was hijacked. Throughout the trial, witnesses independently of each other implicated Mkhize in one way or the other. As the court listened to the account of what transpired on the morning of the incident, Sadia’s mother, Lorraine Sukhraj poured out tears recounting the last moments of the little girl’s life. Visibly emotional, family members consoled and comforted her.
Judge Steyn told the court that is was proven beyond reasonable doubt that Mkhize was not only one of the robbers on the 28th of May 2018, but also drove the vehicle while the child was trapped in it, at the back. She further mentioned that Mkhize was inconsistent and untruthful in his testimony. She said given that it was proven that Mkhize was one of the robbers, he will be held liable for both the deaths.
In explaining how she arrived at her judgment, Judge Steyn said the accused and the deceased foresaw the harm that would be caused to the child and the rest of the family as a result of the robbery. She said the fatal shots sustained by both the deceased were a result of the gunshots being fired by Shailendra Sukhraj in an effort to save his daughter. Judge Steyn said ultimately the death of Sadia and Bulose, resulted in the actions brought about by Mkhize.
The family politely declined to speak to the media after proceedings. Sentencing continues at the Durban High Court on Tuesday morning.