An arrest for a third suspect, who managed to escape Monday morning’s botched hijacking in Shallcross, KwaZulu-Natal, is imminent.
This is what Police Minister Bheki Cele said to the community at the Chatsworth Youth Centre on Thursday afternoon, after he visited the local police Station and the Sukhraj home to pay his respects to the family of nine-year-old Sadia Sukhraj, who lost her life in the tragic incident.
Sadia’s parents, mum Lorraine and dad Shailendra, were visibly upset as Cele greeted the couple before addressing the media outside the family home.
“We are responding to an invitation that was sent to us by the family. We are pleased that have come to see the family,” Cele said.
The minister said that the family was undergoing a lot of stress.
As news of Sadia’s death spread, community members began protesting against the lack of services being provided by the police, with many people blaming the escalation in crime in the area on the police force.
Sadia was laid to rest at the Shallcross Cemetery on Tuesday, after a funeral service which saw almost 3000 people in attendance.
Sadia was in the vehicle outside her grandfather’s house when her father, Shailendra, was pulled out of the car by three suspects, and was shot during the botched hijacking. She was later declared dead at the hospital after succumbing to her wounds.
The community of Chatsworth has been left seething this week, calling the death of the little girls “the last straw” following an increase in crime in the area.
According to the South African Police Service’s 2016/2017 statistics, hijackings during this period in Chatsworth seemed to have dropped by 26.9%, while the provincial rate of hijackings increased by 21.5%.
Despite this, Chatsworth remained a high-crime zone, coming in at number five on the list of areas with the highest number of hijackings in KwaZulu-Natal.
Sibonelo Mkhize, who was arrested after the incident, was charged for Sadia’s murder at the Durban Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday. The 39-year-old man was being held at the Westville prison before his next court appearance in July.
Today Cele indicated that a third suspect who had fled the scene had been identified and said that an arrest would soon take place. The second suspect had died on the scene.
“We have identified the third suspect and we know who he is and will catch him soon,” he said.
Cele went on to speak about the levels of crime in the area, and called for more roadblocks to be implemented in and around Durban.
“We need to increase roadblocks and push away criminals,” he said.
Cele acknowledged the issue of poor visibility and shortage of police officers in the region. He also called for the public to be actively involved in rooting out criminals, but that they should do so within the frameworks of the law.
The Chatsworth community had gathered outside the police station on Wednesday as news of Mkhize’s arrest spread. They demanded that he be released into their custody.
“I maintain the call to South Africans that the law must be respected,” Cele said.