Sun Sep 24 03:31:09 SAST 2017

Family sues ministers over death of principal

By Zoë Mahopo | 2017-05-20 08:04:34.0

The family of a school principal who was murdered inside a courtroom has slapped two government ministers and the man who killed him with a multimillion-rand lawsuit.

Hendrick Shai, 45, from Lorraine village outside Tzaneen in Limpopo, died after he was repeatedly stabbed and killed inside the Maake Magistrate's Court in Lenyenye, Limpopo, on February 3.

Shai's family is now demanding that Police Minister Fikile Mbalula and Minister of Justice and Correctional Services Michael Masutha compensate them for their loss.

The family is suing the ministers in their capacity as the employers of the officials in charge of security around the court's premises. The family has requested that the amount they are seeking be kept secret.

Sowetan has seen court papers filed with the Limpopo High Court in which the family demands to be compensated for loss of income, maintenance and emotional suffering.

They have stated in court papers that officials failed to "tighten security measures at the entrance of and inside the court building".

The third defendant in the case is a security company working on the court's premises while Shai's killer, Isaac Maforafora Sebela, is the fourth defendant.

Sebela was sentenced to 10 years by the Limpopo High Court last week after he pleaded guilty to the murder.

The family has further stated that officials failed to be vigilant in conducting their duties by not preventing "members of the public from entering the court building with dangerous weapons, and in particular the fourth defendant [Sebela].

At the time of his death, Shai's fourth child with his wife Cocky was two months old. Shai was appointed principal of Lorraine Banareng High School three months before the tragedy. He was the founder of Civic Warriors of Maruleng which won a ward in the area after contesting the 2016 local government elections.

Yesterday, Shai's older sister Beauty said they were disappointed that Sebela got such a light sentence. Beauty said they were still struggling to cope with her brother's death.

The family's lawyer, Advocate Ben Shai, said they were waiting for the defendants to respond after summons was issued against them on May 8.

Both ministries had not responded at the time of going to print.