But the man whose negligence caused the accident, the woman’s boyfriend of eight years, wants to put the past behind him and rebuild his life.
An emotional Devashen Naidoo, 24, walked out of the Umbumbulu Magistrate’s Court last week after choosing to pay for his freedom – a R20 000 fine – rather than spend two years in prison.
“The past year has been hectic, stressful and I’m also grieving. I just want to send my condolences to the family of my late girlfriend. I want to say that I am really sorry for what I did,” he told POST as he left the courtroom.
The parents of Sonali Sewbran, 22, have been left heartbroken, not only by her tragic death and for the grandson they would never see, but also because of what they consider a slap-on-the-wrist fine for the man who caused their deaths.
“Unfortunately, we have to accept the court’s decision and let it be. We need to try and move on. Obviously, there is a lot of emotions that we are feeling, I mean my daughter’s life is worth R20000.
“I am heartsore but that’s the decision and unfortunately we have to accept it,” said Sonali’s father Kiren.
He and his wife Shireen cried as they heard victim impact statements from their other daughters, who described Sonali as caring, helpful, compassionate and most of all thrilled to become a mother.
Last month Kiren testified that his daughter had been in an abusive relationship.
“She had an abusive and rocky relationship. He and his family would abuse her and they also emotionally blackmailed her,” he told the court.
“A month before she was due she moved back home. To our understanding, she told him if he wasn’t responsible she would leave him.” He said his daughter had once tried to get an interdict against Naidoo.
On the fateful night of January 8, 2016, the couple had been on the N2 near Umgababa, having left the Sewbrans’ home in Durban for Naidoo’s home in Port Shepstone.
Sonali was nine months pregnant and her mother had pleaded with her not to leave as she was too close to having the baby.
“But she refused, saying she would be back in three hours with her stuff,” Shireen recalled. “Half-an-hour after her leaving, we received a call: she had been in an accident.”
Shireen had said she rushed to the accident scene with the baby bag tight in her hand.
“All I remember was grabbing her hospital bag and baby bag, but when we got to the scene, we were told they were no more.”
Their bakkie had crashed into the back of a truck and Sonali was pronounced dead at the scene.
The State charged Naidoo in 2016, and earlier this year he pleaded guilty to culpable homicide as well as charges of reckless and negligent driving.
The court also suspended his license for a year, despite Naidoo’s plea to be allowed to continue to drive. He said he needed his license as he was the sole breadwinner at home as he worked as a mechanic.
His father Kevin told POST that Sonali was not only a daughter of the Sewbrans but his family as well.
“Sonali spent most of her time with us for the past eight years. She was not only a daughter-in-law but she played the role of big sister to both my daughters.”