Mystery death of anti-drug activist

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Durban - Questions surround the death of a Durban student who was opposed to drugs and gave talks to pupils warning about the dangers of drugs, but went into a coma after a night out clubbing and was found to have cocaine in his body.

Shrivar Sewjee, 23, was a mechanical engineering student at the Durban University of Technology.

His parents, Prakash and Shanthi, from Mariannhill believe his drink was spiked at the Sasha Nightclub in Mathews Meyiwa (Stamford Hill) Road, Greyville, two weeks ago.

Shrivar slipped into a coma that evening and died in Durban’s Entabeni Hospital when the life support machine was switched off last Thursday.

Club owner Alex Peltz told The Mercury that the club had not had an incident like this before.

“We have excellent security and the entire club is monitored by cameras.”

Shrivar was fervently opposed to drugs, his mother said.

“I am a teacher and there is a problem with some of the pupils taking sugars [a drug containing heroin and cocaine] at our school.

“Shrivar used to come to the school and talk to the pupils about the dangers of using drugs.”

Ashleigh Bhanjan, the neurologist who treated Shrivar, said urine tests showed there was cocaine in his body.

“I can’t draw any conclusions from this. All the test shows is that the drug was ingested,” he said.

When a person swallows cocaine it has the same effect as sniffing the drug. The heart rate increases and this can lead to a heart attack.

Shrivar fell ill while out with friends Sahil and Shamal Singh. They said he complained he was feeling sick, so they took him to the car, where he waited for them. When they returned a short while later, he complained that he felt worse.

The brothers took him to their home in Queensburgh and helped him out of the car. By now Shrivar couldn’t walk and they thought he was drunk.

“We put him to bed and thought he would sleep it off,” said Shamal.

Shrivar was later found bleeding from the mouth and nose and was taken to hospital.

The Singh brothers said they not seen him take drugs. “He was socialising with a group of friends whom we were unfamiliar with,” said Shamal.

Sam Pillay, from the Anti-Drug Forum, said drink spiking in Durban was common, especially in clubs. “It is rare but possible to spike someone’s drink with cocaine and for it to be lethal,” he said.

Pillay said women were the main targets, with sleeping pill Rohypnol – known as a date-rape drug – being used to make them black out. They were then robbed and sometimes raped.

Shanthi Sewjee said:

“I never want another mother to feel the pain that I have been through.

“My child was full of life and had everything to live for. He would never do this to himself. Somebody out there put something in his drink which has killed him.”

The Sewjees said they had reported their suspicions about what happened to the police. Police could not confirm this on Monday.


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