Search for missing mother's body continues

2017-11-06 14:50
Police and community members search the Wartburg road and surrounds for signs of missing Northdale woman Arlene Vanessa Pillay after cellphone records placed her alleged kidnapper — her common law husband Ravichandren Chetty — in that area on the night of her disappearance back in July. Chetty committed suicide in police custody on Friday.

Police and community members search the Wartburg road and surrounds for signs of missing Northdale woman Arlene Vanessa Pillay after cellphone records placed her alleged kidnapper — her common law husband Ravichandren Chetty — in that area on the night of her disappearance back in July. Chetty committed suicide in police custody on Friday. (Kerushun Pillay)

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Pietermaritzburg - The agony of the family of a missing Northdale woman continues as police called off the search for her body on Sunday.

Around 20 police officers, including officers from K9 units, and community members searched several sites along the Wartburg road, near the Albert Falls Nature Reserve, to find signs of 34-year-old Arlene Vanessa Pillay’s body.

Cellphone records placed her alleged kidnapper, her common law husband Ravichandren Chetty, in that area on the night of her disappearance back in July.

The group navigated bushy, snake-infested areas to search for signs of Pillay’s body.

Police did recover a burnt cellphone, but neither family nor police were sure whether it was Pillay’s.

The search is expected to resume on Monday.

Chetty (44) was found dead in police custody last Friday after he was formally charged with Pillay’s disappearance and murder.

Police sources said he fashioned a noose from the plastic cover of his mattress and used it to hang himself.

He was arrested last weekend and faced one charge each of murder and kidnapping, and two charges of defeating the ends of justice.

It was alleged that Chetty had opened a false kidnapping case for Pillay, and had also pretended to be Pillay in text messages to members of her family, telling them that she would “be home soon”.

Police sources told The Witness on Friday that Chetty was due to make a full confession to the authorities that morning, and to tell them where Pillay’s body was.

Chetty and Pillay were together for eight years and had three daughters, aged seven, five and two.

Pillay’s sister, Emmaline, said yesterday that the family were devastated when she broke the news that Pillay was dead.

She said family from Durban had come to Pietermaritzburg to provide support.

“I don’t even know when last I slept properly,” she added.

Describing Chetty as a “selfish coward” for killing himself in custody, Emmaline said: “It was inconsiderate if you consider the fact that they have three small children.”

Chetty had two other children from two other women, while Pillay had a 13-year-old daughter from a previous relationship.

Emmaline said the family would wait until the end of the month before making funeral arrangements, to give police time to recover the body.

In the interim, the couple’s children have been taken into care by social workers.

Emmaline is unsure whether the family will get them back.

At the time of her disappearance, Pillay had been separated from Chetty for about two months and was living at her mother’s house.

Emmaline said Pillay had, during the separation, decided to leave Chetty, who she said was abusive towards her. Emmaline suspected this was why Chetty may have wanted to kill Pillay.

“He was possessive. She was not allowed a bank account or cell phone or to work; he controlled her completely,” she added.

“She was not even allowed to sweep the yard when she lived with him in case she spoke to [our aunty] who lived across the road.”

Pillay was last seen by her family on July 24, when she took school clothes for her daughters to Chetty’s house.

An inquest has been opened regarding Chetty’s death, police confirmed last week.

Pillay is survived by her four children, two sisters, a brother and her mother.


Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  crime

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