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Bloody, bullet-riddled body of former Verulam mayor found in canefield

Manna Naidoo’s emotional family contacted Rusa at 12.29pm for assistance after they discovered his home on Panere Farm unlocked and four firearms missing from the safe. His white Toyota Hilux single cab bakkie with the registration NJ 777 can also not be located.

Manna Naidoo’s emotional family contacted Rusa at 12.29pm for assistance after they discovered his home on Panere Farm unlocked and four firearms missing from the safe. His white Toyota Hilux single cab bakkie with the registration NJ 777 can also not be located.

Published May 26, 2022

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Durban - The search for missing former Verulam mayor and farmer Manna Naidoo, 74, who disappeared following a suspected farm invasion at his home on Wednesday, ended tragically after his bullet-riddled body was found in a canefield on Thursday morning.

The discovery was made in the canefield opposite his homestead in Canelands.

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Police spokesperson Lieutenant-Colonel Nqobile Gwala said Verulam SAPS were investigating charges of murder, house robbery and kidnapping.

Gwala said that it was alleged by the complainant that on Wednesday she went to check on her father at a farm at Cottonlands in Verulam after she last spoke to him the previous night.

She said that when she arrived, she noticed that the house keys were on the floor.

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Manna Naidoo’s emotional family contacted Rusa at 12.29pm for assistance after they discovered his home on Panere Farm unlocked and four firearms missing from the safe. | Supplied

“Upon entering the house, she also noticed that the safe was open, cash and firearms that were inside were stolen. The safe keys were on the floor and the bakkie was also taken. A search was conducted yesterday (Wednesday) by local police, police officers from the search and rescue and other role players,” Gwala said.

“Today (Thursday) at 11am, Verulam police officers were conducting a search of the sugarcane fields when they recovered the body of a kidnapped victim. His hands and legs were tied with a rope. He sustained gunshot wounds to the head. The motive for the killing is yet to be established as investigations unfold.”

Reaction Unit South Africa (Rusa) spokesperson Prem Balram said Naidoo went missing during the farm invasion.

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Manna Naidoo’s emotional family contacted Rusa at 12.29pm for assistance after they discovered his home on Panere Farm unlocked and four firearms missing from the safe. | Supplied

Balram said that his family realised he was missing after they conducted a wellness check.

He said that an intense search was conducted by members of Rusa, the South African Police Service, community organisations and civilian volunteers throughout Wednesday and resumed on Thursday morning.

“Naidoo’s body was recovered by a search team who were patrolling the cane fields. He appears to have been shot multiple times,” Balram said.

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“His white Toyota Hilux D4D with registration NJ 777 and several firearms were also stolen.”

Manna Naidoo’s emotional family contacted Rusa at 12.29pm for assistance after they discovered his home on Panere Farm unlocked and four firearms missing from the safe. | Supplied

Earlier, Balram said that Rusa had resumed the search with volunteers, searching an area of the farm on foot and quad bikes after two specially trained tracking dogs from Chapman Security Solutions detected a scent that was lost near a river.

The Rusa helicopter with two crews was conducting a low-level flight over the area that is surrounded by sugar cane, dense vegetation and a river. A bridge leading to Naidoo’s homestead is also being repaired to allow vehicles to access the farm.

Balram said the search had been called off on Wednesday due to poor light.

Rusa, the Verulam SAPS, Umhlali SAPS K9 Unit, community organisations and civilian volunteers had met at Naidoo’s homestead in Canelands.

Balram said Naidoo’s emotional family had contacted Rusa at 12.29pm for assistance after they discovered his home on Panere Farm unlocked and four firearms missing from the safe. His white Toyota Hilux single cab bakkie with registration NJ 777 cannot also be located.

Manna Naidoo’s emotional family contacted Rusa at 12.29pm for assistance after they discovered his home on Panere Farm unlocked and four firearms missing from the safe. | Supplied

“Reaction officers conducted a search of the property and located his house keys behind the premises. The farmer lived alone. His family last made contact with his daughter yesterday (Tuesday) afternoon at 4.30pm,” Balram said.

He said that ground teams with 4x4 vehicles had scoured through the farm and the surrounding cane fields in an attempt to locate Naidoo.

Balram said that due to recent floods, roads leading to the farm had been extensively damaged. Reaction officers were forced to abandon their vehicles several hundred metres away from the scene and continued on foot to the farm.

Manna Naidoo’s emotional family contacted Rusa at 12.29pm for assistance after they discovered his home on Panere Farm unlocked and four firearms missing from the safe. | Supplied

In 2017, The POST reported Naidoo was approached by two armed men on his farm and believed he was being targeted, as he is currently embroiled in a high court battle.

Naidoo was confronted by two suspects in a white VW Polo.

Rusa had responded to the scene.

Balram said both men attempted to lure Naidoo out of his residence and when he refused to exit, the suspects brandished firearms and tried to enter his home.

They fled when Naidoo locked his door and called for assistance. Reaction officers traced the vehicle used and found that the white VW Polo with registration NU 47491 was hijacked in Hillcrest, KZN in March 2007.

The vehicle and suspects were not recovered.

According to Naidoo, he believes the suspects intended to kill him as he is currently embroiled in a bitter High Court battle.

A case was opened at SAPS.

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