April 23 2007 at 09:12AM
If a hijack gang had asked for his car, "good samaritan" Lyle Andrew Stephen, 28, would probably have given it to them, the victim's mother told the Pietermaritzburg High Court on Friday.
One of the perpetrators who was convicted on Friday, Fana Khenisa, 26, of KwaNyuswa near Hillcrest, will be sentenced on Monday.
Weeping bitterly, the victim's mother, Aileen Stephen, told Acting Judge Jerome Mnguni that she and her family were living "shattered" lives in the wake of the hijacking and murder of her only son, Lyle, on February 9, last year.
She said she had observed changes in her three daughters, who used to be "outgoing" young people but who now spoke of leaving the country.
Above all, she and her family were trying hard "not to hate" the perpetrators, she said. Stephen addressed Khenisa: "I hope that what you have done will be with you for the rest of your life."
She described Lyle as a "free spirit" who had made no demands on his parents and was "gentle and harmless".
"If they (the hijackers) had just asked him for his car that day, he would probably have given it to them... He has seen people walking at the side of the road barefoot and stopped and taken off his shoes and given them to them... That's the sort of person he was," she said.
Stephen was shot dead while transporting food parcels to an orphanage in KwaNyuswa near Hillcrest, together with a friend, Justin Roberts.
His mother said that Lyle had been fond of children and had tried to assist local communities.
Earlier, Acting Judge Mnguni rejected Khenisa's evidence that he had been spurred on by shock at the murder and by fear of his co-perpetrator, Nico Zikahle, to participate in the robbery and to help remove Stephen and Roberts from their Daihatsu Charade before driving off with the vehicle.
Mnguni said that by his own admission, Khenisa had never been threatened by Zikhale.
He said that Roberts had testified that there had been four attackers, all of whom had worked together.
The judge said there was "not the slightest doubt" that Khenisa had been present when the murder and robbery had been perpetrated, and that he had formed a common purpose with the other attackers and had associated himself with their conduct. The judge found that Khenisa had been a "willing and active participant".
This article was originally published on page 2 of The Mercury on April 23, 2007