Angel of death

2011-03-31 00:00

WHAT drove nursing Sister Rosani Rassie (44) to end her life along with that of her son Nicholas (9)? This is the question many people are asking after their bodies were found in a parked car at the Protea Sports Grounds on Tuesday night.

It is believed that Rassie, a nurse in the intensive care unit of Pietermaritzburg’s Medi-Clinic hospital, drove to the grounds from their home in Newholmes Way with Nicholas late yesterday.

She parked the car and tilted the front seats into a reclining position before carefully assembling a drip line to administer a strong sedative, Dormicum, to her son.

Dormicum is available only on prescription, and is used in ICUs to render pateints unconscious during surgery. Rassie laid Nicholas’s head on a pillow and injected herself with the Dormicum.

A copy of her identity document was found in the car and it is believed there is a suicide note.

Nicholas, described as a “bubbly boy”, was a grade three pupil at Deccan Road Primary School.

The mother and son were found lying side by side on the front seats of the locked car by the night security guard at about 10 pm.

The security guard, Bheki Gwamande, said he was doing his rounds when he found the pair in the black VW Polo and thought that they were sleeping.

“I left them and later that night, for the second time, went back to the car. They were still sleeping and I knocked harder to wake them up, but in vain.

On shining inside with my torch I saw a syringe with a needle lying between her legs on the seat. I became suspicious and called 10 111.”

Gwamande said he was told there were two police vans in the area and that they would attend to the scene, but they never came. When the police had still not come early yesterday morning, he called again. Paramedics from Netcare attended the scene, but it was too late.

“We don’t know if they were already dead or not. We don’t know if they would have been saved if the police had arrived after I phoned them. I’m traumatised, as if they were my own family,” he said.

The bodies were being placed into a mortuary van at the scene as family members arrived.

Family spokesperson Anthony Govender said they could not comment at this stage.

“I was given strict instructions by the family not to divulge any information to the public. There’s a lot going on behind the scenes at the moment, including the police investigations,” said Govender.

A source close to the family said Rassie had been divorced from the father of her children for five years.

She leaves behind a 23-year-old son.

Circumstances surrounding the divorce are not clear and the source could not confirm whether there is a suicide note.

Medi-Clinic spokesperson Reshnee Beekrum said the hospital could not comment due to the sensitivity of the case. The Witness can confirm that Rassie was employed in the ICU. A source at the hospital said she was one of the best professional nurses at the institution.

When asked if Dormicum is missing from the ICU, the source said the matter is in the hands of the police.

“The management has been receiving calls from the police and we are not allowed to even confirm her employment with us, nor are we allowed to talk about the matter in public,” said the source.

Deccan Road Primary School principal Siva Gounden described Nicholas as a bubbly boy who was fun to have at school.

“He was an active and a lovely boy. There was nothing out of place on the day of the incident. The boy left for home after school, and since he lives close by I can’t say if he was picked up or not.

“There had been nothing amiss in his behaviour that could have made us suspicious that something was wrong in his family. Everything was just normal until we heard about the death,” said Gounden.

Police spokesperson Warrant Officer Joey Jeevan confirmed that an injection syringe and some medicine were found in the vehicle, but declined to confirm if there is a suicide note.

She said the 10 111 tapes were listened to and there was no recording of a call from the guard on Tuesday night.

“We are not saying he didn’t phone, but the recording is not there,” said Jeevan.

She said the syringe and medicine will be sent for forensic examination and a post-mortem will be conducted to determine the cause of death.

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