KZN couple devastated as fire destroys spa

2008-09-24 00:00

THE owners of an upmarket luxury spa and wellness centre have lost everything they had after a fire gutted their business in Hilton on Tuesday morning.

The Makybe Diva Luxury Spa on Hilton College Road was burnt to the ground when a fire broke out there, causing over R4 million in damages.

The owners, Rajen and Mala Naidoo, were devastated by the disaster.

While speaking to The Witness, Mala Naidoo broke down and wept as she described the extent of the losses they have incurred due to the fire.

Her husband echoed her despair. “I am devastated, but it’s even worse for my wife,” he said. “It was her idea that we open the place and each day when she awoke, she would look forward to going there. That place was more than just a business for us. It was a place of natural healing, de-stressing and relaxation.”

The couple started the business in 2007 after they sold off their pharmacy in Raisethorpe, bought a farmhouse in Hilton and transformed it into the wellness spa.

They said they had invested their life savings into the business.

“We lost everything we had; we had renovated the place as a house of natural healing.

“In the rooms there were treatment beds, books, ornaments, artwork on the walls — so many things. We have been constantly adding things and had created the ambiance for healing.”

Naidoo said when they started the business, they also empowered their staff of local women by providing training by Johannesburg-based trainers.

The couple were relying on the business to care and provide for their two sons aged 10 and 13.

“We don’t have any income at the moment. We don’t know what to do. The business was beginning to pick up after 18 months of struggling, but now this ...” Naidoo broke down in tears. The Naidoo family lives in the Pietermaritzburg suburb of Oak Park.

On the night of the fire, the caretaker at the spa, Musa Nzuza, was woken by the sound of the emergency alarm at 12.50 am. “I woke up and peeped through the window and saw the left side of the building was on fire.” Nzuza said security personnel arrived and called the owners.

Firefighters arrived at 1.30 am, but most of the thatched-roof building had already been burnt.

Yesterday morning, when The Witness went to the scene, the building was still smoldering. The house was cordoned with tape and a police officer was on guard at the premises.

Insurance assessors later arrived on the scene to check the damage. A fire officer of the Howick fire department, Ricky Pillay, said the caused of the fire has not been determined.

The police are carrying out an investigation to determine the cause of the fire.

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