These were the heartbreaking words of Sharnell Arendse, the mother of six-year-old Shaylynn Arendse, who was killed in a hit and run incident with her nanny, Maureen Abrahams, 61.
Their killer, Moegamat Rafiek Hayners, 25, of Hanover Park, pleaded guilty to two counts of culpable homicide last year.
He admitted that he had jumped a red robot on 27 September 2018, at the intersection of 5th Avenue and Strandfontein Road in Lotus River and rammed Shaylynn and Maureen, who were standing inside the yellow line.
The State found that Hayners had done 100km/h in a 60km/h zone, and fled the scene.
Sharnell took the witness stand at the Wynberg Regional Court yesterday during aggravation and mitigation of sentencing.
She had with her a photo album of her daughter, who was in Grade 1 at Strandfontein Primary School.
As the pregnant woman spoke of her love for Shaylynn and how empty their lives were now, there was not a dry eye in the courtroom when she called for life imprisonment for Hayners.
“She was a bubbly and very friendly child who was almost grown up in her ways and could sense when someone was down and tried to pick you up,” the mother said.
She says Shaylynn’s death took away all her hope: “Without my daughter I am dead.
“I long for her each day of my life and all I want is to hear her voice and feel her touch.”
Asked what she thought would be an appropriate sentence for Hayners, she said “direct life imprisonment”.
Shaylynn’s father, Jason Hendricks, also took the stand and said he cannot understand how Hayners could drive off like his child “was a bag of dirt”.
The dad said his life had become dark, and he did not feel like living on most days.
But Hayners’ lawyer, Advocate Adrian Samuels, claimed his client was “rattled” by the deaths, and had “sleepless nights and suffered from night terrors”.
Hayners had even offered to pay for private counselling for the parents, which they rejected.
Samuels argued that a sentence of community service would be suitable for his client because it was an act of negligence, rather than intent.
He referenced the case of school taxi driver Jacob Humphreys, whose actions led to the death of 10 children in Blackheath.
On 25 August 2010, Humphreys illegally overtook several cars and drove through a closed boom at the Buttskop Level Crossing, and collided with a train.
He was initially sentenced to 20 years, but served only eight following a successful appeal.
But State prosecutor Koopman said the two cases cannot be compared as Hayners had shown no remorse when he fled the scene.
He was caught after an ex-cop who witnessed the incident chased after him and took down his number plate.
The car, a white VW Golf, was traced to a relative’s house in Hanover Park and days later Hayners handed himself over to cops as the net closed around him.
Koopman said Hayners’ actions have had devastating consequences.
“The main victims are the family and the State will seek justice to be served, and the only suitable sentence would be direct imprisonment,” he added
Hayners’ has not offered an explanation for why he was speeding and jumped the robot that day.
The matter was postponed to 30 January for sentencing proceedings to continue, when the probation officer would take the stand.
Two months after Shaylynn’s death and while out on parole, Hayners, who allegedly has links to the Ghetto Kidz gang, was bust by the Hawks at a storage facility in Somerset West with drugs worth R8.9 million, for which he is currently on trial.