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Trial of Merebank grandmother killed in 2018 allegedly by her tenant gets underway in Durban court

Dhanwathie Fakira. Picture: Supplied

Dhanwathie Fakira. Picture: Supplied

Published Nov 5, 2021

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Durban: A State witness has given a detailed account of finding the body of slain Merebank grandmother, Dhanwathie Fakira.

The murder trial started in the Durban Regional Court.

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Fakira, 79, of Arcot Place, was found with multiple stab wounds on November 25, 2018.

Jithin Ramjaewan, 39, of Phoenix, was arrested and charged with murder on the same day. He is alleged to have been her former tenant. The father of two, who is represented by attorney Rajendra Nathalall, pleaded not guilty.

Raj Lutchman, the first State witness and Fakira's relative, testified that he and his family were meant to have lunch with her on the day.

"I was invited for lunch by the deceased on November 23. On November 25, I left home in Pietermaritzburg and proceeded to Ottawa and Phoenix to attend to some personal business. I was delayed and got to the deceased's residence at around 4pm."

Lutchman said he parked outside the property entrance, and he and his wife, Jenny, and daughter proceeded to the home.

"The top gate was not locked, so my wife and daughter proceeded to the house. When we reached the house, the front burglar gate was latched but not locked. The door was not locked. I knocked on the door a couple of times, but there was no answer."

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Lutchman said he opened both the gate and the door, and before entering, he saw the landline telephone on the couch next.

"But the handset was off the hook and hanging with bloodstains on the phone. I immediately sensed that there was something wrong. I called out for the deceased, but there was no answer. I then proceeded into the house.

"I heard a faint banging sound. When I looked down the passage towards the bedrooms, I saw someone lying on the floor. When I went closer, I noticed that it was the deceased lying on the floor covered in blood."

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Lutchman said he approached Fakira and asked her what had happened and who was responsible.

"The deceased managed to mention the word 'tenant' and the name ‘Jeten’. Whilst Jenny tried to call the police and paramedics, I proceeded to the kitchen and got some water and a face cloth to wipe the deceased's face so that she could see because she was covered in blood."

Lutchman said he noticed that Fakira had been stabbed several times and that there were cuts on her face and neck.

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"I called her daughter Mala to come to the deceased's home to see what had happened and also to listen to what the deceased was saying to verify the name being mentioned. I then went up to the road to see if I could get some assistance to help with the situation."

He said he approached Fakira’s neighbours, who also called the police and paramedics.

"Thereafter, the paramedics were on-site and started to assist the deceased and not long after, the SAPS were on site."

Constable Ntombifuthi Mbongwa of Wentworth SAPS testified that she was on duty when she was alerted to the call relating to an assault. She said when she arrived at the home, many people and the ambulance were present.

"I went inside the house and was told by the people that the woman was assaulted. An Indian female was laying on the floor with bleeding wounds. I noticed wounds to the left side of her neck and left arm. The paramedics were assisting her. They were trying to stabilise her. She was laying on the floor, facing upwards."

Mbongwa said on further investigation, she saw a knife with blood on the floor, and the bedroom cupboard drawers opened.

She said at the time she arrived, Fakira was still alive.

"About 10 minutes later, I was informed by the paramedics that the female had died. I remember as I was still opening a case of attempted murder, I had to change it to murder. At that stage, I contacted the station for a detective, who would take over the scene."

The trial was adjourned to December for further State witnesses' evidence.

Jithin Ramjaewan. Supplied

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