Phoenix pensioner strangled to death with the belt of her nightgown

By Nonjabulo Bhengu, Charlene Somduth Time of article published Jan 5, 2022

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Durban: A PHOENIX pensioner was strangled to death with the belt of her nightgown in her home in Eastbury on Monday evening.

Sarawathi Mangray, 72, was found on her dining room floor by her brother. A police source who is close to the investigation said Sarawathi’s brother returned home from work to find the doors and gates open.

"He called out for his sister but there was no response. He checked in her bedroom and noticed the bedroom cupboards wide open. He continued to look for his sister and found her motionless in the dining room. She had a small wound to her right palm and the belt of her nightgown was wrapped tightly around her neck."

The source said the only item missing at this stage was a cellphone.

"The suspects are still at large. While the motive for the killing is unknown at this stage, robbery cannot be ruled out."

Hansraj Mangray, one of the deceased’s sons, said his family was very saddened about his mother’s death, especially the manner in which she died.

"It was painful. She died for something so trivial as a cellphone.

“It is difficult to grieve as a family because we’re still confused about what happened. But I think once it all settles down we will be able to grieve properly,’’ said Hansraj.

He said that judging by how the crime took place, their mother might have known the killer as it seemed she opened the gate for them to enter.

"My mother had just arrived from Cape Town on December 30 after visiting her niece. When I spoke to her she was in a joyous mood as she had just celebrated New Years," he said.

Hansraj, who is a paediatric surgeon, said that his mother was a very hard-working and determined woman.

“Growing up, my mother worked at a clothing factory in Durban, and my father was a tailor in Ajmeri Arcade in Grey Street. He was known by the Phoenix community as Bobby the Tailor. When my father lost his eyesight due to glaucoma disease, my mother took over as the sole provider for the family,” he said.

Hansraj, who also has two other brothers, one who is an engineer and another an admin clerk, said: “My mother sacrificed a lot for me and my brothers. She never asked for anything in return. She had a class 2 (Grade 2) education pass. But she educated herself as she went along in life.”

Nameshwar Sookdeo, 68, who was the younger brother of Sarawathi, said he discovered the body when he returned to the house. He said he was traumatised by the incident and was saddened about his sister's passing.

“The day before the incident I came from work, I had a cold drink and bread. I sneezed because of the cold, and she told me to use my mask in a joking kind of way. We shared a very close bond,” said Sookdeo.

Sookdeo said that his sister loved to travel and wanted to visit India next. He said she was a member of the Saraswathi Cultural Society in Phoenix, where she studied Hindi. It was her sixth year of studying and she was passionate about her culture and wanted to further her studies.

“On Sunday I gave her a religious calendar. She was excited and read through it planning a holiday,” he said.

In her community, Sarawathi was known as a humble, respectful and religious woman who loved everyone and was devoted to her religious values.

Glen Naidoo, one of her neighbours, said: “I have known them for over 20 years now, she used to walk past in her religious attire on her way to the temple. She knew every scripture of the Ashram word for word.”

Hansraj said Sarawathi's body was released to the family on Tuesday (January 4).

At the time of going to print her family said her funeral could be held at Clare Estate Crematorium on January 5. They were still finalising matters.

At the time of going to print the police did not give out a comment on the case.

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