Durban - FOR seven days, the family of Dr Vidwan Singh, a general practitioner from Pietermaritzburg, prayed at Howick Falls for his body to surface.
Exactly a week later, on Tuesday morning, their prayers were answered. Singh’s body was spotted and later recovered by three divers from the SAPS Search and Rescue Unit.
A post-mortem was conducted later in the day, with the funeral scheduled for Wednesday.
Singh, 72, was last seen at around midday last Tuesday when he left his surgery in Raisethorpe. He had practised there for more than 40years and was well known in the area.
Neren Anand, Singh’s brother-in-law, said they were baffled by the circumstances that led to Singh’s death.
“My brother-in-law was a person of routine. He made it his duty to go home and have lunch with my sister every day. On the day he disappeared, they were supposed to go to a funeral and then have lunch.
“He called her to say he would meet her at the funeral, but he did not arrive. When she returned home, she became worried and called him, but his phone was not answered.
“She called his vehicle tracking company, who asked her to open a missing person’s case. Once that was done, we managed to locate his car near Howick Falls. The car was locked, and he was nowhere to be found.”
Anand said last week had been tough on the family.
“All we want is answers. We want to know what happened. We sent drones, search-and-rescue dogs and even divers, but for days we had no leads.”
Anand said the extended family and friends held prayers at the site. Members of the community from different faiths also prayed for his safe return.
“We accepted all forms of prayer and did whatever people suggested. One man told us to throw coins in the water and pray the body would wash up. We did that. When you are desperate to find your loved one, you will do anything,” he said.
He described Singh as a humble and generous individual who took part in community work.
“He was deeply rooted in community work, through the Sai Centre where he was a member.
“Recently, he conducted a medical camp in Dalton, near Pietermaritzburg, to help the less fortunate.”
Anand said it was unfortunate that fake news was being spread on social media.
“There has been a lot of sensational information going around on social media. My brother-in-law did have some pain in his tummy, and he was going to have a medical procedure done. But we do not know what it was.”
He also denied rumours that a suicide note had been found.
“When we got to the scene, the car was locked. My sister had to hand over the spare keys to the police, who took the vehicle for prints and to collect other evidence. Whatever was in the car would have gone with it. My brother-in-law would have had his notes and journals in the car, but we don’t know what was found in the car.”
On Tuesday morning, a retired policeman went to the falls. Like many others, he had gone to the area in search of answers.
As he gazed at the water through a pair of binoculars, something caught his eye. It turned out to be a body floating on the surface. He notified the police.
KwaZulu-Natal Police spokesperson Colonel Thembeka Mbele confirmed Singh’s body had been recovered. She said an inquest into his death had been opened.
As word spread that a body had been found, the family arrived.
Singh’s wife, Rita, was supported by her sons, Prasun and Nashil, as well as her daughter-in-law. She looked through a pair of binoculars in silence as the body was brought to land and carried up the gorge by stretcher.
Before the body could be loaded on to a mortuary vehicle, the family chanted the Gayatri Mantra, a Hindu prayer.