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‘For water, I lost my son’

Crime & Courts
Durban - Fetching water from a river for his family’s sugarcane farm in northern KwaZulu-Natal cost a student his life when he and his aunt were attacked by robbers.

Pranesh Namnath, 22, was shot dead in the Glendale area.

His aunt, Deli Pathi, 69, who accompanied him, fractured her arm when she fell as she ran for her life from the gunmen who accosted them at a river about 3km from their farm last Monday.

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Pranesh Namnath Picture: Supplied

Pranesh’s devastated father, 74-year-old pensioner Harichand Namnath, told POST the farm had been without water for about six months, and the destitute family would go to the river occasionally to fill up drums of water.

“He went to fill water and they (the robbers) told him they wanted his van.”

Pranesh had got out of the van and the attackers shot him once just above the nose and made off with the family’s 4X4 Toyota Hilux, Harichand said.

He said that when he was alerted to the incident he raced over to find the police already at the scene and his son lying facing upwards.

“We put him in another car and halfway to the hospital he died.”

Harichand said the police had recovered the bakkie and it had been returned to the family last week.

He said neighbours were helping the family with water.

Pathi was taken to hospital and her arm was put in a cast. She declined comment.

Pranesh was cremated at a ceremony in KwaDukuza (Stanger) last Tuesday.

He was just one year from completing his qualifications at Umfolozi College after which he would have worked as a fitter. He was in the middle of a one-year learnership at Gledhow Sugar Mill.

Pranesh is remembered by his loved ones as a quiet, respectful man.

“He was quiet with everybody. He wouldn’t harm an ant. He never back-talked,” Harichand said.

Pranesh’s girlfriend, Riah Woodradge, 21, said: “He was very quiet and understanding.”

Woodradge, who is studying to be a teacher through Unisa, had been in a relationship with Pranesh for three years.

She had spoken to him on the phone about 15 minutes before the attack.

That night he was to pick her up from her home and take her back to the farm, as they had regularly done.

She said Pranesh dreamed of one day owning a business as a motor mechanic.

“He was so excited to finally finish his learnership because that’s what he loved - fixing things. He loved getting his hands dirty.

“It was as if he’d rather fix the family’s tractor than see me,” she laughed.

Police spokesperson Colonel Thembeka Mbhele confirmed that a case of hijacking and murder was under investigation.

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