Durban - Deaf couple Navin and Jessica Ragbeer, both aged 37, had known each other since their school days and no one was surprised when they married 12 years ago. They were inseparable, said Premmie Tholsi, Jessica’s mother.
But in the early hours of Thursday their loving marriage came to a tragic end at their Phoenix home when Navin was shot and killed by an intruder.
With blood oozing from his wound and paramedics still to arrive, Jessica prayed fervently for Navin as he lay helpless and dying on their veranda floor, but help came too late.
“Why, why him?” asked Jessica.
Tholsi related her grief-stricken daughter’s anguish when the Sunday Tribune called at the family’s home.
Jessica is a teacher at the St Martin’s School for the deaf, physically and mentally challenged in Port Shepstone.
Navin was an administrative worker at the VN Naik School for the deaf in Newlands.
Three intruders surprised the Ragbeers, who live with Tholsi in her modest home, just as Navin was about to drive Jessica to Durban station to catch a bus to work.
All the intruders took were a flat-screen TV and Jessica’s handbag with her cellphone and a small amount of cash.
Police spokesman Captain Thulani Zwane confirmed that Navin was pronounced dead at the home in Phoenix after sustaining a single gunshot wound to the chest.
“Members of SAPS Phoenix are investigating a case of house robbery and murder, but no arrests have been made thus far,” said Zwane.
Tholsi, who usually saw the couple off as they left home each morning, realised something was amiss when she noticed a shadow outside her lounge window as Navin opened their front door.
“Two men with guns grabbed Navin as he stepped out of the house. Another grabbed me by my neck and pointed the gun at me,” said the 70-year-old woman.
“The guns looked like toys. Only when one of the men shot Navin, did I realise this was serious.
“One of the robbers asked me for money and jewellery. I said ‘Don’t harm us, just take whatever you want’,” said Tholsi.
Jessica, who was in her mother’s room at the time, was unaware that the intruders had entered their home and shot her husband.
According to Tholsi, two of the men grabbed Jessica in the room and made a gesture for money with their hands. They then fled with her daughter’s handbag and a television set.
“When Jessica got to the veranda, she realised what had happened to Navin. I told her to pray.
“By the time neighbours had come to our assistance and called the paramedics it was too late. Navin died in his wife’s arms.
“I’ll never forget the shrill sound my daughter made when she realised her husband had died. I’ll never forget this incident. Such a harmless and humble man killed in that way.
“After they shot him, they threw him to the ground like a dirt-bin bag,” said Tholsi.