Arvin Ramraj
Durban - A GAUTENG plumber died when he apparently inhaled methane gas while fixing a sewage line at a shopping centre in Pretoria.

Arvin Ramraj, 39, a father of one and formerly from Phoenix, died on Friday evening in a tunnel under the Kolonnade Shopping Centre. A co-worker also died.

Tshwane EMS spokesperson Charles Mabaso said the men appeared to have been overcome by the gas.

According to the American Council on Science and Health, methane is odourless and non-toxic, but a high concentration could displace oxygen in the air and result in death.

Ramraj’s relative, Viresh Bhana, said: “From what we understand, Arvin went down a tunnel to sort out a sewage blockage and as he was climbing out of the tunnel he saw his co-worker lying on the floor.

“Arvin went back down to check on him and we believe that is when he inhaled the methane gas and died. The other workers realised something was amiss when they both failed to return. When they looked into the tunnel, they saw their bodies and contacted emergency services for help.”

Members of the fire brigade, he said, set up a team to retrieve their bodies.

Bhana added that Ramraj’s employer had notified the family of the incident.

“It is still hard to believe he is gone. As a family, we want a full investigation into this incident. We are hoping that when the post-mortem is released it will provide clarity.”

Ramraj is survived by his wife, Suraksha, and their 4-year-old son.

“This is not an easy time for them. They moved to Gauteng about eight years ago for better opportunities and settled in Midrand. Arvin grew up from humble beginnings and, as a youngster, he had dealt with many blows, including his father being murdered.”

The shopping centre’s marketing manager, Monique van Rensburg, said an investigation had been initiated and counselling was being arranged for all affected.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of the deceased.”