Durban - The body of a decapitated woman has been found in Shallcross, Chatsworth. Desiree Murugan, 39, was discovered by municipal maintenance staff at the Shallcross sports stadium on Monday.
One of the workers who discovered the body, Zama Ntsoyana, said: “When we got to the ground to work we saw the body from far away and thought that it was a doll. When we approached the body we saw flies.”
Ntsoyana said they phoned the municipal offices and informed them. She said they had searched for the head to no avail.
Ntsoyana said the incident had left her deeply disturbed: “I am still frightened. I have never seen such a thing in my whole life.”
Dumezweni Dlamini, a member of the Chatsworth community police forum arrived on the scene at about 8am after receiving a call.
“When I saw the body, her pants were down by her ankles and her head was missing,” Dlamini said.
It is believed she had been working as a prostitute.
He said members of the forum hoped to meet police, and crime intelligence to discuss the matter and to “try and prevent such a thing happening again”.
Desiree’s brother, Chris Murugan, said that he was “devastated by her death”.
“I hope and pray that the cops find the guys who did this to her.”
Chris described his sister as a “very loving person... she got along with everybody”.
He said her death had devastated the family. “My mother is taking it very badly... We lost dad at about the same time a year ago.”
Sister Jennet said when she talked to Desiree about her life as a prostitute she would say: “Life is tough out there.”
Jennet said she last saw her sister two weeks ago.
“Regardless of her drugs and line of work, she did not deserve to die in such a barbaric way.
“She was a lovely person and would not harm anyone, even though she used drugs she was still a polite person,” she said.
Jennet said the family would tell Desiree’s 6-year-old son about her death later on Tuesday.
“We do not want to crush him now. We will tell him after sports as he is very excited about it,” she said.
She said Desiree’s son “loved his mother to bits”.
The murder has also left members of the community shocked.
Shallcross Hindu priest Pundith Chandrajith Panday said: “It is a heinous act. This girl, I used to see her and feel pity for her.”
Panday said the act was a sign of evil and had shocked and frightened the community.
He said a “havan” peace prayer was being planned to remove the fear from the community.
“These people are sex workers, they are harmless. It is the men who are unscrupulous and go for the girls and have nice sex with them. They go outside to get what they cannot get at home.”
The priest said Shallcross needed a substation as the Chatsworth police station cannot serve the whole community.
Dianne Massawe of Sex Workers’ Education and Advocacy Taskforce said: “Women are seen as less than human beings and sex workers are seen as being disposable.”
She said because of this they were more likely to become victims of crime.
Massawe said: “Clients who behave in this manner do it because they know the conviction rate.”
She said sex workers wanted to be treated “like any other person” and that if a sex worker was murdered, the investigation should be conducted in the same manner as would be done for someone who was not a sex worker. “Sex workers want to have their human rights respected” she said.
Police Captain Jay Naicker confirmed that detectives were working on possible leads.