Pastor's daughter shot dead in botched car 'hijacking'
A 9-year-old girl was shot in an apparent botched car hijacking in Chatsworth on Monday morning. She was rushed to Chatsmed hospital‚ south of Durban‚ where she succumbed to a gunshot wound in the stomach.
Police have identified her as Sadia Sukhraj. The girl had been taken along with the car by three gunmen when her father‚ pastor Shailendra Sukhraj‚ was hijacked near their home in Shallcross on Monday morning.
Tributes for the little girl‚ daugher of Sukhraj and his wife Lorraine‚ and outrage at her death gained momentum on social media as news of her shooting went viral.
The father and daughter had been leaving their home in a Hundai vehicle - which according to Sukraj's Facebook page was bought in February - when they were accosted by the gunmen.
Chatsworth community policing forum chairperson Jakes Singh said the vehicle that was hijacked near Marklands Secondary School in Shallcross.
"The hijackers drove away with the nine-year-old child. The hijacked vehicle was pursued by the child's father‚ and then there was a shooting‚ so we don't know exactly how the child got shot and by whom‚" he said.
KwaZulu-Natal police spokesperson Captain Nqobile Gwala said the incident took place outside the child's home‚ which is near the school. "At 7:30am the victim (the father) was at the family home when he was accosted by three armed suspects who then deprived him of his vehicle. There was a shooting and the suspects sped off with the nine-year-old girl."
The hijackers then hit a truck and lost control of the vehicle in a nearby park. One of the men was arrested as he fled the scene by an off-duty police officer‚ another died near the vehicle and a third man remains at large.
Gwala confirmed that one of the hijackers was killed. "The nature of his injuries is still unknown because the forensic team is still busy. A 39-year-old suspect was apprehended by an off-duty police official who witnessed the incident‚" she said.
CPF chairperson Singh was at the crime scene‚ where investigators were piecing together clues to determine exactly what occurred. "Everything is still fresh and sketchy. We are trying to gather every bit of information at the moment. This entire road is closed‚" he said.
As relatives of the slain girl arrived at the Chatsmed hospital‚ hysterical cries of anguish reverberated through the accident and emergency unit. A distraught man collapsed into the arms of another as he sobbed outside the hospital.
Shallcross community police forum chairman Mahendra Lillkan said the incident was the first hijacking in the area in recent months. "The community is shocked and saddened by this incident. We just don't know what to say. General housebreakings have been continuing but hijackings seemed to be under control. We are surprised by what happened this morning‚" he said.