Fugitive: ‘I killed wife’

2012-08-15 00:00

HAVING bludgeoned his wife, Caroline Rajah, with a metal handle, Madhan Maharaj got into bed beside her bloodied body and went to sleep.

The following morning he was “shocked” to discover she was not moving and then went to his son for help.

Maharaj (42) was rearrested for Rajah’s murder on Monday, after evading justice for seven years following his escape from Fort Napier hospital, where he had been sent for mental observation.

He described in the regional court yesterday how he’d beaten Rajah (32) to death with a metal handle on September 3, 2005.

Maharaj said he attacked Rajah after accusing her of having an affair, which she denied.

“I assaulted her all over her body with this handle and I may have even used my fists because I was that angry. I hit her on her head, her feet, her hands, her body and I did use force such (sic) that the deceased started to bleed on several parts of her body and blood from her injuries transferred to my clothing,” he said in a statement read out to Regional Court magistrate Riaan de Wet.

Maharaj said that before the incident he and Rajah had “numerous fights and arguments” as he suspected her of having “several affairs”.

About a week before killing her, he spotted her with another man, he said. “They were holding hands and they then subsequently boarded a taxi,” he said.

“On the night in question, we were arguing in the bedroom and the deceased was on the bed.

“She was denying the incident and she was telling me that this never happened. I got very angry at that stage and I could not take her lying anymore and I picked up a metal handle that attaches to a fish net, which was in the room, and I assaulted her.”

Maharaj said Rajah was alive when he stopped beating her. Then he went to a neighbour whom he thought would help them deal with their problems.

“He was unable to do so and I then went to speak to my sister, who did not want to involve herself in my problems, and I eventually went home. I got home and the lights were off and I did not speak to the deceased and I got into bed and went to sleep.”

When he woke the next morning, he found Rajah was not moving and was “shocked”.

He was arrested at his son’s home.

Maharaj said he had not wanted to kill Rajah, but foresaw the possibility of her dying of her injuries.

He said that a few days into his stay at Fort Napier Hospital, he noticed that no one was attending to his ward and walked out. He made his way to the roof, jumped over a fence and escaped.

Maharaj will be sentenced today.

TOO MUCH: MOTHER AVOIDS TRIAL

IT had been “too much” for Caroline Rajah’s mother, Lutchmee Rajah, to attend the trial yesterday, other relatives said.

She and Caroline’s daughter (now aged 16) had cried after being summoned by police on Monday to identify Maharaj following his arrest, they said.

They said everyone had been traumatised by Caroline’s murder. Her father, Bala, had died of a heart attack just three months after discovering her broken body in her home.

Caroline’s aunt, Sheila Ramkumar, and other relatives yesterday thanked police Captain Pipes Haffajee on behalf of the family for capturing Maharaj after so many years.

“We were shocked and we are very grateful that he was arrested,” said Ramkumar.

Maharaj’s sister declined to comment.

TIPPED OFF: POLICE MOVED STEALTHILY

DESCRIBING how he tracked Madhan Maharaj, Captain Pipes Haffajee said a tip-off had led to the fugitive’s arrest at the primary school in Phoenix where he had lived and worked as a caretaker for two years.

Haffajee said that when revisiting the case, his team received information that Maharaj could be in Durban. Then the Crime Intelligence Unit became involved and its inquiries uncovered Maharaj’s location.

“He was still using his identity document, and his fingerprints were on record,” he said.

Haffajee said Maharaj had kept “under the radar” and not drawn attention to himself. For example, he had not renewed his driver’s licence.

To prevent Maharaj making another run for it, the police had acted stealthily, he said.

They had waited outside the school and entered when the gates opened at around 7 am to arrest Maharaj before the children arrived, and before anyone could alert him to their presence.

NEIGHBOUR: WHAT GOT INTO HIM?

A FRIEND of Caroline Rajah, Ramitha Seuckumar, said her family was grateful for Maharaj’s arrest.

She said that two days before her death, Caroline had confided to her that she was “terrified” of her husband and was afraid to go home because he’d threatened to kill her that morning. “Thanks to God he will be behind bars where he belongs,” she said in an e-mail sent to The Witness.

A neighbour from Wayside Place who preferred not to be named told Gabisile Ngcobo he’d known Maharaj as a “humble, quiet and a good man”. “We don’t know what got into him.”

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