Couple shot ‘by rivals’

2011-12-23 00:00

IT was a case of taking out the competition, said the survivor of a brutal shooting in Tongaat yesterday, that claimed the lives of two and left one person in a critical condition.

Rishen Ramnanan was asleep with his seven-months pregnant wife Prishini in the early hours of the morning when three armed men kicked their bedroom door open.

“My wife was trembling and I pleaded with them in the little Zulu I knew to leave her alone, telling them that she was pregnant,” said Ramnanan, still visibly shaken by the ordeal.

“They put the barrel of the gun in my mouth and forced me back into the room, as I tried to push them out the room. Then they didn’t even run, they just walked away.

“But I had heard four gunshots and feared the worst for the rest of the family,” he said.

When he went to his in-laws’ bedroom Balaram Reddy (56), and his wife Maliga (52), lay in their blood-soaked bed, still covered with their bedclothes. “I can only pray that they died in their sleep and didn’t have to confront those people,” he said.

The couple’s 27-year-old son Nivashin survived the attack, sustaining several stab wounds and a gunshot wound.

Right: Nivashin Balaram.

According to Ramnanan, “trivial” items were taken, like his cellphone and the car keys.

“They obviously didn’t want us to get help, they didn’t even take my car,” he said.

Ramnanan said the family owned buses and the routes they used clashed with those of taxis operating in the area.

“These people came specifically to take out those people involved in the running of the business, which were my brother-in-law and his parents.”

Yesterday, family and friends gathered at the house in Burbreeze, and several police officers, mostly from the Serious and Violent Crime Unit, interviewed other members of the family.

One of the family members, who was the first to arrive after the incident, said the pregnant Prishini was huddled under a bus, terrified, when he got to the scene. The funeral will take place on Saturday at the family’s home in Tongaat.

Two counts of murder, attempted murder and robbery charges are being investigated by police.

Police spokesperson Colonel Jay Naicker said that police were looking at a few leads and that it was premature to jump to any conclusions.

“Reddy had a few business interests and this could have been related to any one of them,” he said.

“A task team headed by Major-General Mjabuliswa Ngcobo, which is the same team that brought swift justice to the recent sibling murder at the hands of Mario Tsware and an accomplice, is investigating the matter,’ he said. “I have no doubt that there will be major developments in this case over the next few days,” he said.

e.TV reported police as saying Reddy had been robbed several times, and last week survived another shooting attempt.

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