Durban - A smart detective used his romantic charm – and the mobile messaging application, WhatsApp – to track down a woman suspected of being involved in the murder of a Westville father.
Two men were also arrested after the woman – expecting the tall, dark and handsome man her friend had set up for her – received a visit from the detective and his colleagues instead.
She co-operated with them.
The trio were expected to appear in the Durban Magistrate’s Court on Monday in connection with the murder of Karthiegasen Nair, 39.
Nair had been walking home on King Cetshwayo Highway (Jan Smuts Avenue), near the N3 intersection, on the evening of May 25 with his dog, Taylor, when a man stabbed them, and took his cellphone.
A witness, Sheraz Khan, tried to assist Nair, but the robber escaped. The dog had defended his owner, making it hard for police to help him. Khan said members of an SAPS unit and an ambulance crew did not help when flagged down.
Nair was later taken to King Dinuzulu (King George V) Hospital in a police van where he died that evening.
The suspects have also been charged with robbery and possession of stolen property.
Describing how police cracked the case, a source said that once Nair’s family had identified his body, Mayville detective – Constable Thabani Mthethwa – began tracing his stolen cellphone.
“It was quite a process, but the detective worked around the clock. After a lengthy process which involved obtaining a court order and so forth, the policeman discovered Nair’s BlackBerry phone was in use by a female from the Cato Crest area in Cato Manor,” he said.
The police source said Mthethwa had gone through the woman’s cellphone records and decided to contact one of her friends via WhatsApp.
The friend’s number was the most frequently dialled.
Mthethwa then sent some WhatsApp messages to the friend, asking her to put him in touch with the suspect because he fancied her.
The friend had replied, asking if Mthethwa was the “tall guy” they had met at a function recently. Mthethwa strung her along, pouring on the charm and within minutes he had the suspect’s Cato Manor address.
On Thursday, Mayville police arrested the woman at her home and allegedly found Nair’s white BlackBerry cellphone in her possession.
She eventually led police to a man whom she said had sold her the phone. He, in turn, accompanied police, led by Mthethwa and a Sergeant Hariram, to another man who is alleged to have stabbed and robbed Nair.
“When the man who sold the phone to the lady was apprehended, he told us how his friend had said he stabbed someone to obtain the phone and he needed to sell it for money,” the police source said.
“The police then conducted a further raid in Inanda in the early hours of Friday morning to arrest the alleged murderer at his premises. They also found the knife allegedly used in the stabbing.”
Police spokesman, Captain Thulani Zwane, confirmed that two men, aged 22 and 23, and a 32-year-old woman had been arrested and that a cellphone and knife had been found.
Nair’s mother is struggling to come to grips with her son’s death, which has left her grandchild an orphan.
A teary-eyed Savy Nair told the Daily News on Sunday: “It has been very traumatic on the family and especially on Karthi’s daughter who lost her mom four months ago.
“For a parent to lose a child is very difficult, but he died under circumstances where witnesses said the ambulance and a police van didn’t attend to him.
“That makes it more tragic, knowing he could have been saved.”
Nair said the pathologist’s report said her son died from four stab wounds, with the two wounds that pierced his right lung and main artery on his thigh causing extensive blood loss.
“I am still haunted when I think that Karthi actually survived for about three hours in the hospital, and because of loss of blood he eventually died,” she said.
“We must praise Mayville SAPS for their efforts in arresting the people involved in his murder.”
The Nair family said they had instructed their attorney to look into the allegations that emergency crews had not assisted.
The police and KZN Emergency Medical Services said they were still investigating the claims.
The Durban and Coast SPCA said that if a witness came forward, they would charge the suspect for stabbing the dog.
How phone was traced
A police source divulged how the cellphone was traced by the SAPS: