Navishka Roopnarain
Navishka Roopnarain

Mom’s heartbreak as teen daughter is found dead in a bush with gunshot wounds to the head

By Charlene Somduth Time of article published Apr 22, 2021

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Durban - NAVISHKA Roopnarain planned to complete matric and train to become a nurse.

The 17-year-old, of Demat, near Mariannhill, wanted a better life for herself and her mother, Lavi Roopnarain, who recently lost her job as a caregiver.

But on Saturday night, Navishka, a matric pupil at Asoka Secondary School in Chatsworth, was found dead in a bush in Lamontville. She sustained gunshot wounds to her head.

Two of her friends, Siphelele Dimba, 35, and Lungisani Lucky Xhoza, 41, were found dead in the car. Another man, 25, who was also a friend, survived the shooting. He is recovering in hospital.

Captain Nqobile Gwala, a provincial police spokesperson, said one of the men was slumped on the driver’s side with multiple gunshot wounds. The other was in the boot of the vehicle. He also sustained multiple gunshot wounds.

“Another man emerged from the bushes where he was hiding after he sustained gunshot wounds to the body. He was treated at the scene and taken to the hospital for medical attention.”

Gwala said that evening, the police arrested two suspects, aged 23 and 24, at a home in the area.

“They were hiding in a taxi that was parked at the house.”

She said the suspects were found in possession of three illegal firearms and 11 rounds of ammunition.

“A search was also conducted in the house and police found 30 straws of rock cocaine.

“Another vehicle was found parked at the premises with a flat-screen TV inside. The vehicle and the TV were seized by police for further investigation.”

Gwala said cases of murder, attempted murder, illegal possession of firearms, and possession of drugs were opened at the Lamontville police station.

The suspects appeared in the Durban Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday.

The suspects were remanded to April 28 for the State to conduct an ID parade.

Lavi Roopnarain is hoping the investigation will give her some insight into her daughter’s last moments.

Roopnarain said the last time she saw her daughter was on Saturday afternoon when she left to see her friends, who stayed about five minutes away from their home. “I did not mind her going. I knew who her friends were. She was always responsible.”

Roopnarain said she was not feeling well that afternoon and she took some medication.“I fell asleep only to wake in the early hours of the morning and find that Navishka had not returned home.

“I tried calling her cellphone, but there was no answer. I assumed she had stayed over with her friends.”

She said she asked her neighbours if they saw Navishka. Roopnarain said some of them said they had seen her alone at 7pm on Saturday near her home.

“I was getting ready to go to the police station to report her missing that morning when an officer arrived with pictures of the crime scene.

“I was too emotional to look. My brother, who was with me, identified my daughter in the picture and later at the morgue. They told us she was killed in a shooting. The other two people who were killed, and the one in hospital, are her friends.”

Roopnarain said her daughter had a gunshot wound to the head.

“My baby was killed in a brutal manner. She did not deserve what happened to her. I cannot understand why someone would want to harm my child.

“She was a jovial child. She was down to earth and she loved everyone, young and old.”

Roopnarain said a few days before her death, Navishka had asked for R20 to buy sandals for a woman who did not have shoes.

“She had a caring nature about her, especially for the little children in the community. I often found her taking care of kids who had fallen and were hurt with a cut or a bruise. Her dream was to complete matric this year and become a nurse.”

She said she had lost her job as a caregiver as a result of the coronavirus pandemic and this had affected their lifestyle.

“I found a part-time job as a caregiver every Saturday to keep us going. My baby was working hard to get good results to get a bursary to study. She wanted to attend the University of KwaZulu-Natal. Once she qualified, one of her other dreams was to buy me a house.”

Roopnarain said her daughter was her best friend.

“I am a single parent. She was my everything. We never hid anything from each other. We were looking forward to celebrating her 18th birthday in July. Navishka was a true angel and a blessing from God. I leave this in His hands. He will ensure she gets justice.”

Githa Panday, the deputy principal of Asoka Secondary School, described Navishka’s death as unfair.

“She was a good learner. Navishka was in the middle of writing her first term exams. She had a plan for her life and wanted to be a nurse.

“Her death is a loss to our school and the community. When we informed pupils about her death on Monday, they just started sobbing. The staff had to calm them down and I counselled some of her close friends.”

Panday said due to the Covid-19 regulations, they were unable to have a memorial but on Monday the school observed a moment’s silence in her memory.

Navishka’s funeral took place on Wednesday.

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