Poisoned banana: man dies

2009-01-07 00:00

Legal experts have warned that a Hilton resident who was trying to bait monkeys with poisoned bananas could be in hot water, after an unwitting garden service supervisor ate one and later died.

Secoomar Brijmohan (63), known as Prem, is being mourned not only by his shocked family, but by his employers and those whose gardens he cared for.

According to Sarisha Harrilall, the daughter of his employer, Brijmohan was at work at a Hilton residential complex just before Christmas, when he ate a banana he found on a table in the garden.

Little did the Howick man realise that the banana had allegedly been laced with poison to kill nuisance monkeys that roam the area.

The father of three and grandfather of two became ill shortly afterwards and died a week later at Grey’s Hospital.

Harrilall, who works in Durban, told The Witness that she was on leave and was helping her father with the running of the garden service when she received a call saying that Brijmohan had taken ill after eating the banana. She rushed to help him.

“He was nauseous, shivering, sweating profusely and had fainted.”

Brijmohan’s daughter-in-law, Rakhee, said they took him to the family doctor who told him to go to hospital to be treated for poisoning. She said Brijmohan also suffered from diabetes and high blood pressure and was on medication for these conditions.

They took him to Northdale Hospital, but he was transferred to Grey’s in the early hours of the following morning as Northdale did not have the facilities needed to treat him.

He was placed on life support at Northdale, and suffered two heart attacks that night and a series of seizures. Rakhee said he was sedated for the first four days. The day before his death, doctors told the distressed family that there was nothing more they could do for him.

“The family is still not well emotionally — it hasn’t sunk in as yet,” said his son Mithal.

Brijmohan was born and raised in Howick and was a founding member of the Howick West Hindu Association. He served as treasurer and secretary for close to 25 years.

Harrilall described Brijmohan as an excellent worker who will be “sorely missed”.

“He was so dedicated, trustworthy and respectful and was at work at 7 am each morning. This is a real tragedy.”

She said her father’s workers were instructed not to eat anything from places they worked at.

She said he admitted to having eaten the banana, which the domestic worker had told them was laced with poison.

She said the hospital inquired which poison had been used. It was later alleged that the poison was Temic.

Harrilall said Brijmohan’s family have declined to take legal action at this stage.

Loraine Smith, a client whose garden Brijmohan tended, said she was shocked and saddened to hear that he had died “a very slow and painful death” after eating the poisoned banana.

“Prem was a gentle and hardworking person, and it is not right that he had to die in such a senseless way.”

Various attempts to reach the homeowner, who is alleged to have put the poisoned banana out, were unsuccessful.

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