Community protests against high crime

Thousands of seething Chatsworth residents and members of public from surrounding areas gathered at Chatsworth SAPS on Monday evening in a peaceful protest that went awry, following the brutal killing of nine-year-old Sardia Sookraj in a botched hijacking in Shallcross, earlier that day.

Sardia was fatally shot whilst seated in the hijacked vehicle as the suspects fled from Caucasus Street. She and her dad were accosted by three armed men who drove off with Sardia whilst throwing her father out of the vehicle. A shootout ensued between the suspects and community members as the hijackers drove off towards Himalaya Street. Eyewitnesses say the suspects drove into an oncoming truck before coming to a halt. Police confirmed that the suspect driving the hijacked vehicle passed on due to injuries that he sustained during the crash, whilst the second suspect was injured and taken to hospital under police guard.

The third accomplice remains at large, and a police manhunt is underway for him. Young Sardia was shot in the stomach and was declared deceased upon arrival at hospital.
She was laid to rest following a massive, heart-wrenching funeral service held at the Christian Revival Centre on Tuesday.

Still reeling from the shocking killing, furious community members gathered in their numbers outside the local police station calling for police intervention against the spiralling crime rate on Monday evening. Amidst the peaceful demonstration, they claim police used stun grenades and tear gas to disperse them, leaving some protestors injured.

Speaking to the Chatsworth Tabloid, Ashley Pillay, the man who on his own took a stand shortly after the fatal hijacking, and blocked the entrance to Chatsworth SAPS, said enough is enough. “As a community we hear about the crimes that are occurring, and after a child was killed on Monday morning, we cannot sit back and allow it to happen again. The mentality of the people of Chatsworth needs to change; something needs to be done.

“Change needs to happen now or this will be another death in vain,” Pillay added. Scores of community members took note of Pillay’s stance earlier in the day and pledged support to the cause at hand. Police spokesperson, Cpt Nqobile Gwala, said protestors wanted the suspect to be released to them to be dealt with for the heinous crime committed in the killing of Sardia. “There is a suspect that died at the scene, but the nature of injuries are still unknown as the forensic team are still busy. A 39-year-old suspect was apprehended by an off-duty police official,” said Gwala.

“Protestors were demanding that the suspect who was arrested on Monday be released to them. We are appealing to community members to raise their grievances in a polite and peaceful manner,” said Cpt Gwala. She said police are investigating a case of murder and hijacking.

Sardia, a pupil at Everest Primary, was described as a cheerful and family orientated child.  Family spokesperson, Devika Sookraj said, “Sardia loved her baby brother. She had played with him and she even prayed for him before going to school. I saw her before going to school, I bought her a pen and she thanked me for it and for helping her with her homework. She was very excited to go to school.”

Spokesman for the Department for Education in KZN, Muzi Mahlambi, said that their psychological unit is providing counselling for pupils and staff at Marklands Secondary School, who witnessed the ordeal. “Our officials are at the school with the principal, together with the psychological unit to do the trauma debriefing. The police are attending to the matter,” he said.

A petition has been started to reinstate the death penalty and members of the public are being urged to sign up and make a difference. Those who want to join can do so by logging on to, https://www.change.org/p/justiceforsadia-bring-back-the-death-penalty and use the hash tag #JusticeForSadia to show their support.