Johannesburg: A nine-year-old Indian-origin girl was on Monday killed in a botched car hijacking, leading to angry protests by the community members in the Indian township of Chatsworth in Durban.
The girl, Sadia Sukhraj, was on her way to school with her father when three armed men allegedly accosted and hijacked the car she was in and sped away with her.
In an ensuing chase in which the hijackers and community members shot at each other, the hijackers crashed the car they were in. The girl was found shot and critically injured while one of the hijackers tumbled out of the car dead. She was rushed to a hospital but succumbed to her serious injuries.
A second hijacker was arrested by an off-duty policeman, while the third one escaped.
Following the incident, more than 3,000 members of the community converged outside Chatsworth police station calling for urgent police action.
As the small contingent of officers at the police station allegedly came under severe verbal abuse and threats of physical action from protestors, they resorted to firing rubber bullets, tear gas, and stun grenades to disperse the crowd, which included scores of children.
Mahendra Lillkan, chairperson of the local Crime Forum, said there had been a spike in crime in the area, despite community patrols at night.
"It seems that the criminals have now resorted to striking at soft targets, such as parents taking their children to school, as we have seen with this tragic incident."
Police and community leaders have appealed for calm amid fears that the protests would escalate on Tuesday as the distraught family prepared for the funeral.