Premilal Basdew burnt to death last week.    
Picture: Supplied
Premilal Basdew burnt to death last week. Picture: Supplied

Family suspect foul play in woman’s fiery death

By Janine Moodley Time of article published Jan 17, 2020

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Durban - THE family of a Phoenix woman who burnt to death in a wendy house while her partner watched an Indian TV series with his mother in the main building, suspects there could be foul play.

Premilal Basdew’s charred remains were allegedly found in a foetal position in Clearhaven last Monday night.

The mother of two lived in a wendy house with her partner, Clive Dharmaseevan, on his mother Ramamma Pillay’s property.

Dharmaseevan was allegedly watching Starlife with his mom when they noticed the fire.

But Basdew’s aunt, Gonasagrie Naidoo, is adamant there is more to the story.

The remains of a wendy house where Phoenix mother Premilal Basdew burnt to death last week. Supplied


She refused to believe claims that a lit candle led to the fire.

“It was not a candle. People are lying to get away,” said Naidoo.

“If it were a candle, she would have escaped before the fire got out of control. Added to that, how is it that no one heard her screams or tried to rescue her?”  

She said she and Basdew shared an unbreakable bond.

“We had the best conversations and shared many laughs together. She did not deserve to die this way.”

She claimed Basdew, who was a domestic worker and had two children from a previous relationship, wanted to leave Dharmaseevan.

Naidoo claimed Dharmaseevan was abusive.

His mother said the couple often drank together and fought.

“This woman gave me endless problems. That is why I chased her and my son out of the main house, but I still did everything for them,” said Pillay.

She said last Monday at around 7.30pm, Basdew called her as she wanted food.

“I heated the sausage chutney and the fish roe chutney and gave it to her. That was the last time I saw her.”

Pillay said she went to her room to watch her favourite Indian serials.

“Clive came up to use the toilet and watched TV with me. At around 11pm, I went to the window to smoke and saw the flames outside. We both ran outside.”

Pillay said she was shocked when she was later told Basdew was inside.

“I thought she got out somehow.

“I am still trying to get over what happened. I can’t eat and can’t sleep. I don’t even want to watch my TV programmes. I am so down.”

She said she did not know her son’s whereabouts.

“The police took him away because his life is in danger. Pam’s family is after him. They blame him for what happened, but he would never do this. Even though they fought, they loved each other.”

A neighbour claimed they heard the couple argue prior to the fire.

Another neighbour said they did not hear the victim’s shouts for help during the fire.

“We felt so helpless. We tried to pour water on the fire, but it wasn’t working.”

Riaz Pillay, who was first at the scene, said he got so close to the fire that the hair on his legs burnt off.

He said Dharmaseevan wanted to look for Basdew inside, but he had to hold him back.

“It was not a good sight to see someone die like that. It was really a tragic incident. She was a mother, a sister, a daughter and a friend to so many.”

Police spokesperson Captain Nqobile Gwala said an inquest was opened. 

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