Shantel Pillay was an addict whose frequent visits to an infamous drug den in Phoenix left her family feeling worried and helpless for years.
Their biggest fear was realised on Saturday, when the 29-year-old woman’s mutilated body was found in a stream just metres away from the drug den.
She had apparently been mauled by a pack of six pit bulls.
“We just stood in our home, shocked and devastated,” her younger sister Angel told Post, describing how they had reacted to the news. “We could not believe that Shantel was gone and that she died in such a gruesome way.”
Fighting back tears, her parents, Roy and Judy Pillay, said too many lives were being destroyed by drugs and authorities needed to take action.
“Our youth are being drawn into drugs and nothing is being done to stop these criminals. Police need to work harder in order to close down their operations. Burying or cremating a child is the worse thing any parent could go through,” said Judy, 56.
“We need to know what happened to our daughter and we want answers.”
As the distraught family prepared to bury their daughter on Tuesday, they were eager to know the results of the post-mortem which was conducted.
According to a police source, Shantel had been mauled by six pit bulls owned by the alleged drug lord.
“A nearby resident heard her screams for help,” he said. “The resident came to her aid, throwing stones at the dogs. They then ran back into the property they came from. The resident contacted paramedics and the SAPS.”
The source said chunks of flesh had been bitten from the woman’s legs as well as her neck, chest and arms.
“We believe she bled to death,” he said. “We are not sure how the dogs got out of the property and police are looking at having those dogs put down, pending the investigation.”
The attack came weeks after a Phoenix man, Rakesh Rampersad, 28, was attacked by his neighbour’s four pit bulls.
Shantel, who was unemployed, had left home around 5pm on Friday. When she failed to return home that night, her family did not suspect anything had happened to her because she would always return “in her own time”, said her sister.
“My sister has been addicted to drugs for the past seven years. She would leave home to go to the drug den and only return late at night in an intoxicated state.”
But on Saturday morning, a relative and a friend broke the terrible news to them.
Angel said despite her sister’s drug habits, she was a “loving, caring and giving person”.
“Her drug problem left us feeling helpless and we did not know what else to do. My sister left school at the age of 15 and started working at various companies.
“She was doing well and living a good life. But at the age of 22 she started going out and joining friends who had a bad influence on her and became addicted to drugs.”
Angel said when her family first found out they had been furious and tried on numerous occasions to get her help.
“For a while she would remain clean from the drugs, but she always went back to her old ways. As a family we did not know what else to do. She became so focused on getting her next fix that nothing else mattered. She even lost her job.”
The chairman of the Phoenix Policing Forum, Umesh Singh, said police, together with KwaZulu-Natal Premier Senzo Mchunu, were tackling the drug problem in Phoenix through an active programme, which included zeroing in on known drug dens.
“We understand that drugs are rife in the community and many youngsters like Shantel are dying because of the trade,” Singh said. “Since the start of the programme we have been receiving tip-offs from the community, and it is only their help that will assist us with driving these dealers out of Phoenix.”
Police spokesman Major Thulani Zwane said a case of culpable homicide was being investigated in relation to Shantel’s death.
Anyone with information about the incident is asked to contact the Phoenix police station at 031 502 2300/2354.