Callous end for carer

2011-09-07 00:00

A CARING nursing sister, Maalthie “Bubbles” Mownchan (64), was stabbed to death — allegedly by her gardener or his accomplice — at her Samanaville home near Orient Heights yesterday.

Her daughter, Sonalya (20), locked herself in the bathroom to escape the attacker.

Police spokesperson Lieutenant Joey Jeevan said that before the attack Sonalya opened the bathroom door and was on her way to her mother when she was confronted by an unknown man rushing into the passage.

She immediately ran back into the bathroom, locked the door, and began screaming.

It is believed the man tried to open the bathroom door before fleeing.

When she peeped through the bathroom window she saw the gardener and the other man get into her mother’s Chrysler Neon, but the anti-hijacking alarm was activated and they ran away, said Jeevan.

When Sonalya went outside it was too late; her mother was already dead, lying in a pool of blood next to her car.

The abandoned garden tools — a rake, spade, shears and a broom — were still on the lawn.

Nonhlanhla Maphungula, the next-door neighbour’s housekeeper, said she had visited Mownchan to ask advice about her persistent cough.

Mownchan worked at St Anne’s Hospital on a part-time basis.

A shaken Maphungula told The Witness, “When I went to Mownchan’s house there was a gardener tending the garden and he asked me what I was doing here.

“She opened the front door and we then spoke about a cough I have had for three weeks, and she wrote me a letter to take to the clinic to check for tuberculosis,”

Maphungula said she chatted to Mownchan through a locked burglar gate.

Less than 30 minutes after she had gone back to her employer’s house she heard Mownchan screaming for her life.

When she and her employer ran outside to see what was happening, she said she saw two men walking down the street.

Emotional friends and family members gathered outside 36 Samana Street after they heard the news.

Mownchan’s eldest brother, Freddy (72), said the family have lost a “beautiful and a wonderful person who helped everyone” and a well-known figure in the nursing community.

“I’m a widower and I make my own food, but my sister would invite me once a week to eat lunch.

“She’d take me to hospital and take care of me because I have heart problems.

“Last week she invited me to eat at her house and I saw the gardener cleaning windows and I really don’t know where she got this fellow,” he added.

Freddy told The Witness that she will be remembered for her helpful spirit and as a good salad maker during family get-togethers.

A close neighbour, Anil Singh, said the murderers had killed a harmless person who assisted youngsters with their tuition fees, fed the poor and donated clothes to shack dwellers.

Mownchan trained as a nurse at St Aidan’s Hospital in Durban in 1967 and worked at Northdale Hospital from the 1970s when it opened until 2005 when she retired.

In 2009 she undertook part-time nursing services at the intensive care unit at St Anne’s Hospital.

Her Northdale Hospital colleague, Sue Totaran, said, “Mownchan was good at what she did, professional and very caring. She was also outgoing, vibrant, bubbly and always on the go. That’s where the ‘Bubbles’ nickname comes from.”


Police spokesperson Joey Jeevan said the gardener was employed on a part-time basis by Mownchan three months ago. She was not in possession of any documentation and employed him.

She appealed to the public to avoid employing persons seeking temporary employment on the streets. “It is also advisable to employ persons on a referral basis and to always request some form of identification and/or proof of residence.”

She appealed to anyone with information that will assist police in the investigation to contact Captain Pipes Haffajee on his office number on 033 387 9528 or on his cell on 079 500 0264.

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