Man accused of killing nine-year-old Sadia Sukhraj found guilty
The father of Durban schoolgirl Sadia Sukhraj burst into tears when Durban High Court judge Esther Steyn found the man accused of her murder guilty.
She said before delivering the verdict on Monday that the killing of the grade 4 schoolgirl had "changed lives forever". The tragedy resulted in a national outpouring of grief.
Steyn ruled that accused Sibonelo Mkhize was one of two armed robbers who hijacked a car belonging to the girl's father, Shailendra. She found Mkhize guilty of Sadia's murder through the doctrine of common purpose. He was also found guilty of the murder of his alleged accomplice, Siyabonga Bulose.
Under laws of common purpose, an accused can be held to account for crimes he or she did not commit if by their own conduct they must have foreseen that the crimes could have been committed.
Mkhize, 39, was arrested after allegedly hijacking the car in which the Shallcross schoolgirl and her father Shailendra were travelling in May last year.
It’s common cause that both were shot dead by Sadia’s father Shailendra, who frantically fired shots at the car as it sped away with his daughter in it.
The crime, which judge Steyn said had “changed their lives forever” took place when Shailendra and his wife were dropping their six-month-old baby off at her mother’s home.
They went inside the house, leaving Sadia seated in the car in the driveway.
Shailendra came out to find two men at the car.
They threatened him with a gun and he threw the car keys at them before retreating into the house. There he pulled out his own firearm, went outside and started shooting at the car.
In his tearful evidence during the trial, Shailendra said his action had been to stop the vehicle and save his daughter.
Under cross-examination during the trial, he conceded that it was probably bullets from his gun that had killed her and the second hijacker.
Before Bulose died at the scene, he allegedly told a witness that the owner of the car had shot and killed the little girl.
Mkhize, who was seen getting out of the car with a black handbag, was subsequently chased and caught by an off-duty police officer.
He later pleaded not guilty to the charges and said he had been wrongly accused. But judge Steyn said there were many witnesses who had seen him and had correctly described what he was wearing and that he had a “goatee”.
Mkhize attempted to deny this, but state advocate Kelvin Singh produced pictures of him at his first court appearance with facial hair.
Mkhize will be sentenced on Tuesday.