Durban – What drove a professional hunter to turn his rifle on his wife of 10 years and then himself?
That’s the painful question two families are battling to answer after what appeared to be the horrific murder-suicide of an “amazing couple” which left two young KwaDukuza (Stanger) boys orphans a day after celebrating Christmas.
The disfigured bodies of Mahendran Woodraj, 34, an employee at a car dealership, and Charlene Woodraj, 28, a part-time graphic designer, were found by relatives in their home in Freesia Road.
Charlene had been shot in the head and Mahendran under the chin.
The couple were “loving” and “happy”, Charlene’s uncle, Vishan Poorun, told POST, so the gruesome shootings were baffling.
“I met them at Charlene’s mom’s home hours before the tragedy and they seemed happy. Their sons (aged 9 and 4) were staying over because they were coming to the beach with us. The couple dropped the kids off and then headed home where they lived with Mahen’s parents and his brother.”
Poorun said Mahendran’s family had gone to Sibaya Casino and when they returned home at about 1am they found the doors to the house locked.
“They called out for the couple but there was no answer. As they walked around the house they noticed that the couple’s bedroom light was on and a window was open. As Mahendran’s brother pulled back the curtain he saw their bodies lying beside each other on their bed.”
Poorun was awoken by a phone call at 2am informing him about what had happened and he rushed to the scene.
“It was a gruesome sight and I cannot get those images out of my mind. Their faces were disfigured and for the funeral we had to have closed caskets,” he said.
“As a family, although we are in shock, we are trying to be strong for their two children. With the help and support of family the children seem to be coping. They are staying with Mahendran’s parents.”
He said he could not understand what had gone wrong.
“They were an amazing couple. They adored their two children and were loving to each other.
“The couple met while Charlene was still in school and had been married for 10 years. Nobody knows what went wrong; we don’t even have a suicide note.”
Poorun described Charlene as a humble person with a beautiful smile.
“She always wanted a professional career and when she got the part-time job she was very excited. Charlene was a wonderful mother; she always put the needs of her children first.”
He said Mahendran was a devoted father and respected in the community.
“One of his favourite pastimes was hunting and he did it in a professional capacity.”
While Mahendran’s family declined to comment on the incident, friends, family and colleagues took to social media to pay tribute to the couple.
Charmaine Maharaj: “This is so shocking. I can’t believe you guys are no longer with us. Rest in peace Mahen and Charlene. Two gems gone to (sic) soon. We all at Toyota have lost a great employee.”
Arusha Woodraj: “We miss them so much. Words cannot describe this unbearable pain we have in our hearts.”
Arusha Arthee Haripersad: “No one is able to understand the pain and suffering of our two families. Mahen and Charlene had a special place in our hearts which will forever remain empty they are loved * missed dearly.”
Police spokesperson Lieutenant-Colonel Thulani Zwane said a case of murder and an inquest docket had been opened at the KwaDukuza police station.
“Two people were found dead in their house at Freesia Road, with gunshot wounds. A rifle was found next to their bodies,” Zwane said.
A joint funeral was held last Thursday.