‘Tell boys I love them’

2014-04-03 00:00

HAVING watched his wife being killed in front of his eyes and himself fatally wounded, a Tongaat father’s last words were to tell his sister: “Tell my boys I love them”.

The funeral of Nishen (46) and Maureen (48) Maharaj at the Tongaat Community Hall yesterday attracted thousands of mourners after their murder resonated throughout the Tongaat and greater Durban communities.

The couple, married for 21 years, were killed when Nishen was about to drop Maureen off for work in the upper Tongaat area at 7.30 am on Tuesday.

As they arrived at the Saverite Mayitapele on Noodsberg Road (R614) where Maureen was a manager, five armed men, believed to be wearing police-issue bullet-proof vests with AK47s were holding the store owner Selvan Reddy on the ground to steal money destined for pensioners that day. Over R300 000 was taken.

Nishen immediately started to back out of the car park when the men started shooting indiscriminately at the vehicle. Maureen was struck in the head and Nishen was critically wounded. He still managed to drive a kilometre down the road when he eventually succumbed to his injuries and drove into a nearby banana field. Over 100 pensioners witnessed the entire attack.

An hour later, with family by his side, Nishen died but not before telling his sister: “Tell my boys I love them. Please take care of my boys.”

Nishen, who owned a farm not far from where they were killed, also owned Durban-based freight company Seapoint Shipping and Logistics. He and Maureen had two sons, aged 20 and 18.

Nishen’s cousin Minesh Maharaj told The Witness the couple had met 25 years ago. “They would meet at the same bus stop every day. This went on for a few months. An elderly friend who knew them could see that there was a spark between them and helped arrange a meeting to bring them together. Maureen didn’t need to work but she chose to to keep herself busy,” said Minesh.

Maureen’s aunt Jayash Singh, who gave a tribute at the funeral, said she spoke at Maureen and Nishen’s wedding and now again at their funeral. “I believe they were soul mates. They had weathered their own difficulties and were so happy together. They were a loving family. Their two boys will be surrounded with love from all of us,” said Singh.

On March 31 Maureen sent a Whats-App message to all her friends and family that read: “Family isn’t always blood. It’s the people who want you in their lives … and love you no matter what.”

Nishen’s older brother Lateeth said the funeral was a heart-wrenching story.

“Yesterday they began their day like any other. Today we mourn at their funeral.

“They have become another statistic and for the criminals who feel no remorse just another job. As we celebrate 20 years of democracy the families left are devastated in a democratic and so called liberated country. Yesterday I saw their two mothers bonded in grief.

“Nishen died a hero trying to save his wife. The only consolation is they left this earth hand in hand,” he said.

Lateeth said his brother was generous and had at his recent birthday fed an entire informal settlement near his office. He called Maureen a strong woman and a city girl content with living on a farm.

A cousin of Maureen, Kamal Singh, said he remembered growing up with Maureen and visiting the farmlands where she was killed. “We would spend days running around that area as children. It is so tragic what has happened,” he said.

Police said no arrests have been made.

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