Durban - THE family of former mayor of Verulam Sagadava “Manna” Naidoo, 74, are convinced his killing was planned.
In an interview with the Sunday Tribune, Naidoo’s son, Yushen Naidoo, said he did not believe his father’s death was a random criminal act. After a two-day search this week, Manna’s body was found on Thursday in a sugar cane field in Canelands, his hands and legs tied with rope. His body had been beaten and he had sustained gunshot wounds to the head. Naidoo said the family last heard from his father on Tuesday at 4pm.
“My sister tried phoning my dad, but his phone went to voicemail. She panicked and went to his house. “His vehicle was not there, and when she looked around she couldn’t find him. The safe in his office was open, while firearms, valuables, documents and cash had been taken.
“She immediately called me, and we contacted local authorities for assistance in finding him. We searched for him tirelessly on Wednesday and on Thursday morning, together with local security companies, metro police, the SAPS, and the K9 unit.
“We searched the area where we thought he could have been abducted and while searching received a call from the SAPS. “They stated that they had made a discovery and found my dad’s body about 2km away from his home.
“It was an absolutely gruesome scene. Dad was a frail man and a cardiac patient. He had recently had a quadruple bypass, and when I looked at his lifeless body that had been beaten, tied up and shot multiple times, it was heart-breaking. “His hands and legs were broken. It wasn’t pleasant to see at all.
They wanted to harm him and inflict extreme pain. They tortured my father and caused such damage to his body. He was an old, frail and defenceless man. They just dumped his body. “To see an old man robbed of his last valuable years is so sad. One can only conclude that they came to kill him. The motive, in my opinion, was not robbery.
They came to get him and kill him.” said Naidoo. He said they were still baffled by who would want to kill their father. “I cannot think of any enemies, if there were any, who could do this. I don’t believe this was an ordinary robbery – they came to kill him.
“There was no sign of force: the safe was opened with the key, and vehicle keys were missing, but not a single valuable was taken from any of the rooms. The house key was dropped outside,” he said.
Naidoo said the family hoped to get justice. “We are appealing to anyone with information regarding the incident or the whereabouts of my father’s Toyota Hilux, which has not been recovered, to contact the police,” he said. Manna was known for his community service that spanned over 50 years. He was also a former mayor and Member of Parliament.
“My dad wasn’t just my father – he was a father to the community. He was a local councillor who was also involved in town planning and provincial and national government. He was the founding member of the Verulam Farm Watch and Verulam CPF Committee, among other entities. “My father was Verulam’s true blueblooded hero, and my phone hasn’t stopped ringing with calls of condolences since his passing.
It is a great loss,” said Naidoo. Having worked closely with Manna for many years, Verulam’s Ward 106 councillor Johnson Chetty said he would be sorely missed.
“I saw him three months ago. I had a very cordial working relationship with Mr Naidoo, related and restricted to the creation and implementation of the Verulam Market Traders’ Association.
“Being a farmer, the ex-mayor played an integral role in the formation of the association. He was well-respected and was a guarded man. He was part of a municipal body that aimed to create dialogue with formal and informal traders.
He will be sorely missed in the business sector. Traders truly respected him.” The father of nine children and 16 grandchildren was anticipating the birth of his first great-grandchild. His funeral was being planned to take place next week.
KwaZulu-Natal police spokesperson Lieutenant-Colonel Nqobile Gwala said charges of murder, house robbery and kidnapping were being investigated by the Verulam SAPS. “The motive for the killing is yet to be established as investigations unfold,” said Gwala.