Pretoria - A day before the start of the new school year, Andrew Anthony Primary School’s star teacher was bludgeoned to death in the kitchen of her Laudium home on Tuesday.
Sangita Vithal, 49, was found dead in the house she shared with her parents after her family had been unable to get hold of her on Monday evening.
She had been teaching at the school for 10 years.
Her brother, Ravin Ramjee Heera, broke down the back door of the Mink Street house at 5.30am to find his older sister’s body on the floor.
Jackeyson Heera, Vithal’s uncle, said she was bludgeoned on the right side of her head with an unknown blunt object.
Paramedics and the police were called, but Vithal was already dead.
“The paramedics said her skull was broken, but we were hoping she could still be alive,” Heera said.
He said the family became suspicious when Vithal did not arrive for dinner with her aunt on Monday evening.
“She was not answering her phone and the house’s lights were off into the evening.”
Heera said they went to her house at 9pm on Monday to look for her, but there was no answer.
“We shouted outside, but at around 11pm we left. We thought she might have gone to the movies or something.”
The following morning, her brother found her cellphone and her handbag in her car, which had been left open in the driveway.
Police spokeswoman Warrant Officer Wanda Olivier said there were signs of a struggle in many of the rooms in the house, but nothing appeared to have been stolen.
“The initial investigation indicates that a struggle took place in various rooms in the house. There are bruise marks on Vithal’s body. The cause of death will be determined by an autopsy.”
Vithal’s parents had left for a prayer pilgrimage to India on Monday afternoon.
“We managed to intercept them during their stopover in Dubai and gave them the news. They are on their way back,” Heera said.
Once they return, arrangements will be made for Vithal’s funeral.
Andrew Anthony Primary School principal Veera Singh said they would hold a memorial service for their “very dedicated teacher who loved children”.
She added: “The hardest thing will be to tell the pupils.”
Vithal was divorced and had two children in their 20s. One studies actuarial sciences in Cape Town. The other lives in Joburg.
Vithal’s former husband works as a teacher in Ladysmith.
Witnesses living in the street said they saw the gardener leave the house at 4.30pm on Monday. He is presumed to be the last person to have seen her alive.
According to Heera, Vithal’s gardener had access to the house during the festive season and did odd jobs for the family.
He added that the gardener and Vithal had had an argument outside the school earlier on Monday.
Olivier said there appeared to be no signs of forced entry and that the motive for the murder had yet to be established. No suspects have been arrested.
Heera said: “She was an outgoing person and so full of life. That’s why we did not initially worry when we could not find her. It was not strange for her to go out and socialise.”