Durban - With four gunshot wounds in his back, one in his heart and his new BMW M3 riddled with bullets, the life of a well-liked former Verulam man, who lived to serve his community, came to a shocking end on Saturday night.
A bloody brawl at a councillor’s house in Lenasia, apparently sparked by a man allegedly innocently “touching” a female party-goer during a dance at a 21st birthday celebration, quickly turned into a nightmare that left 31-year-old serial entrepreneur Avinash Manjanu dead after he tried to intervene and make peace.
“He sustained five gunshot wounds with one piercing through his heart. It was horrific,” Manjanu’s brother Minesh told POST on Tuesday, a day after his brother’s funeral.
The two brothers and a third sibling, Bashan, were at the Lenasia South Extension 2 home of DA councillor Vinay Choonie, 41, for his wife’s 21st birthday bash.
Everything was fine as the guests partied the night away.
“My brother Bashan was dancing with a friend when the councillor’s wife’s relative accused Bashan of touching his sister. An argument broke out between the two and the man hit Bashan in the face with a beer bottle,” claimed Minesh.
Hearing the commotion, Avinash tried to intervene, he said.
“The man did not back down and continued to be aggressive toward Bashan. Seeing the man’s behaviour, Avinash told all of us to leave the party because we also had female relatives with us and he was afraid someone would get hurt.”
Minesh said Bashan’s face was covered in blood and he sustained a deep cut near his eye.
“After dropping us off at home Avinash went back to the party with a friend to talk to the man about paying Bashan’s medical bill and to ease the tension between both families. I was worried about Avinash and I decided to follow him in my vehicle,” said Minesh.
When Minesh got to the councillor’s house he saw the alleged attacker and a female party-goer in their vehicles.
“As I stepped out of my car to go to Avinash, the woman drove straight into me with her car and then fled.
“I got into my car and tried to chase her so I could get her number plate. As I chased her, Avinash called me on my cellphone and told me to meet him at home.”
The brothers met up at their home, but Avinash returned to the councillor’s house once again as he was worried because things were getting out of hand and he wanted to defuse the situation.
“He was gone for less than 15 minutes when the councillor arrived at our home informing us that Avinash was shot and killed.
“When I arrived at the scene I was in shock,” said Minesh, describing his brother’s bullet-riddled body and car.
Choonie told POST the incident had left him traumatised.
Choonie said he shut the party down when the argument broke out.
“When Avinash came back to my house, we were talking about resolving the issue, and all of a sudden my wife’s relative and another family member opened fire on Avinash. As one tried to get away, I tried to disarm the man and was hurt.”
Choonie said he was saddened by Avinash’s death.
“He was a good man and person. I am hoping the police investigation can set the record straight on what had happened. There are too many rumours going around that are defaming me and my family.”
Minesh described his brother as a “go-getter” who lived to serve his community.
“Avinash moved to Lenasia in 2004 and started the Manjanu Group of Companies, which ran multiple businesses in printing, cleaning and construction, to name a few. He managed everything and he made sure he employed people from the community, and he did not care if they had experience or qualifications, he believed only in giving people chances.”
Minesh said when he received payments from customers, Avinash would set aside R500 every month.
“With this money he would personally cook and feed people in old-age homes and orphanages in the community. He did so much for everyone and he did not deserve to die. We want justice for his murder.”
Minesh said his family was now rallying around to support his brother’s fiancée, Samentha Archary, and his adopted son Preshan, 2.
Avinash’s friends took to Facebook to share their grief.
Ridwan Mohamed wrote: “My Vato my brother my friend. You will be truly missed and for the good that you have done for anyone that needed it will not be forgotten when you enter the Heavens to be with the other Angels. I love you my brother RIP. Gone to soon. Original Vato.”
Kuben Archary: “To think just a few days ago we were all laughing together, it was great to capture such joy, a great smile and a good way to lastingly remember you!”
Police spokesperson Khalipha Mvula confirmed the incident.
Two people were arrested in connection with the murder and were to have appeared in court on Tuesday.