Lecturer’s sea death puzzle
Mystery surrounds the death of a Durban lecturer while scuba diving on Friday morning.
Daxita “Dixie” Rajput, 51, of Hartley Road, Overport, was out on a charter dive with her daughter Priyanka, 18, and brother, Joytesh, when she disappeared while under water, at around 9.30am.
The incident happened at Blood Reef, near the old whaling station on the Bluff. It is named after all the blood which discoloured the water when whales were being processed.
A post-mortem was carried out on Saturday but the results of blood and tissue samples still had to be analysed before a cause of death could be established.
Police said the diving tanks and equipment used by Rajput were to be subjected to an independent forensic inspection.
Rajput was a lecturer in sport science education at the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s Edgewood campus.
Rajput was with eight other divers, under the instruction of dive master Bradley Wright, when tragedy struck.
The charter company, Calypso Dive and Adventure, declined to comment. A woman, who only identified herself as Lauren, referred enquiries to police.
KZN police spokesman, Colonel Vincent Mdunge, said on Sunday: “It is alleged that the deceased disappeared while underwater. The dive was stopped and a search started.”
He said Rajput was eventually found and pulled out of the water by the divers. She was certified dead by paramedics.
“It is unknown at this stage how and what caused the victim’s death,” Mdunge said.
An inquest docket has been opened by Maydon Wharf police.
Clifford Ireland, Durban station commander of the National Sea Rescue Institute, said a crew was activated after they received a report of the missing scuba diver, about 1.5 nautical miles off the Bluff.
He said that when it was reported by the charter company that the woman went missing during the dive, a dive search was launched.
Her body was found at 10.42am, Ireland said.
Rajput’s husband, Bharath Morar, said on Sunday that Joytesh had been visiting from New Zealand.
“Joytesh has been a licensed scuba diver for many years. He and my wife loved extreme sports,” he said. “She had started scuba diving a few years ago with my daughter, Priyanka. They were encouraged by Joytesh’s love of the sea.”
He said both mother and daughter completed a scuba diving course and had done several dives in the past year locally, at Sodwana and as well as abroad.
“But, they never went out alone. It was always on a dive charter,” Morar said.
“Friday was no different. They left home at around 7.15am, and I received a call at 10.15am, informing me that Daxita was missing underwater.”
He said by the time he got to the scene from uMhlanga, his wife’s body had been recovered.
“Her death is a mystery. No-one knows what happened,” Morar said. “She was an extremely strong swimmer that did 50 laps at a time, at the gym swimming pool.
He said his wife died doing what she loved the most. “I will not pursue her death further or point fingers at anyone. The police investigation can take its course.”
Morar said he wanted to focus on offering support to their children, Priyanka and Jeshmika, 11.
“Daxita lived on the edge. Whenever she came back from a dive, she had a sparkle in her eyes. She would describe the vast wonder of the sea below,” he said. “She often described it as magical.”
He said he had accepted what had happened and reality had set in for him and his children – that their wife and mother was no more – at the funeral, on Sunday.
“She completed her PhD thesis on ‘Achieving sporting excellence in a transforming society’ last year. Her thesis was among the top three and she was due to graduate in the next two weeks.”
He said two days before her death, she was invited to present a paper in Vancouver, Canada.
“She was so excited about it. She was a real busybody and lived life to the fullest ...”.
Morar said his wife had also engaged in a community outreach programme with the Pinetown Christian Centre with the focus on sports skill development and social development and upliftment through sports.
She was also a member of the South African Association of Human Movement Studies and the International Sociology of Sport Association.
“She was a devoted mother and also very culturally active. She was also one of the founding members of the KwaZulu-Natal Rajput Association to promote religion and culture.”