Three mystery deaths at White Mountain lodge, Ntabamphlope KZN

 

Three young Indian-South Africans –  Dhiren Singh, Cheryl Chetty, and Jayraj Deonarain — all died mysteriously at White Mountain Lodge, Ntabamphlope, KZN – in Aug 2010 and Oct 2009, in the same room… under identical circumstances.

  ————————————

On Aug 4 2010, Mr Dhiren Singh and Ms Cheryl Chetty, an engaged Indian-SA couple, were found dead in the bathtub of one specific room at the White Mountain Lodge in Ntabaphlope, KZN. The state pathologist concluded after a 15 minute-examination of both bodies that they had died of “carbon-monoxide poisoning”. However, an independent post-mortem by Dr Reggie Perumal ruled this out – he instead concluded that their injuries indicated that “a great deal of violence” had been used.  He also found it strange that another Indian-SA man, Jharaj Deonarain, had also died in the same hotel room in October last year. The State pathologist had also concluded at that time that he had died of carbon-monoxide poisoning – and Dr Perumal had also found that Deonarain had been murdered…

Dhiren Singh, Cheryl Chetty dead at White Mountain Lodge, Ntabamphlope, KZNRelatives of the engaged couple said: "Both Cheryl and Dhiren appeared to have been brutally assaulted. Their bodies were black and blue. Dhiren’s lips were swollen, his ribs were crushed and he had a gash on his face. To us, these injuries seemed inconsistent with gas inhalation. Also, their underwear and the clothing they had been wearing that night, seemed to have disappeared…"

Fist and boot-marks on Dhiren’s body.. he was beaten to a pulp…

Dhiren’s brother-in-law, Sachin Mahadeo, said he was also shocked to see what appeared to be fist and boot marks on his body. He was beaten to a pulp and I am convinced by more than one person. His injuries show he fought until the very end. Management and staff at the lodge were secretive and refused to co-operate. They also told us there had been no deaths or murders at the lodge in the past.

However this was inaccurate: In October 2009, another Indian-South African, Mr Jayraj Deonarain, was also found dead in the very same hotel room…

 Also:  More gas inhalation ‘victims’ speak out: Police have appealed to people who have stayed at the tragedy-plagued White Mountain Lodge to come forward, after reports surfaced of more guests claiming they had suffered the ill effects of gas…

story:
August 04 2010 Hours after a South African-Indian man proposed marriage to his childhood sweetheart and slipped a diamond ring on her finger, during a romantic retreat at a secluded Drakensberg lodge, the couple’s naked, badly battered bodies were found in the bathtub of their rondavel-style chalet.

Dhiren (Chan) Singh, 26, a sales consultant, formerly of Primrose Street, Warrenton, KwaDukuza, had planned the marriage proposal to coincide with the birthday of his girlfriend of 10 years, bank employee Cheryl Chetty, 24, formerly of Violet Road, Tugela Rail, on Thursday (July 29).He had booked a weekend at the White Mountain Lodge, in Ntabamhlope, about 30km from Estcourt. According to Cheryl’s aunt, Melita Rowanlall, the couple, who had shared a flat in Edenvale, Johannesburg, for the past three years, had checked into the lodge at about 4pm on Thursday and were expected to stay there until Sunday.

Said Rowanlall: "We were unaware of Dhiren’s plans, until our families went to Ntabamhlope on Saturday to identify the bodies. The receptionist at the lodge, Meryle van Niekerk, told us that during dinner on Thursday in the dining hall, Dhiren went down on one knee and proposed to Cheryl before slipping a white gold and diamond ring on her finger. She said Cheryl was ecstatic."The couple planned to marry in either December, or early next year.

Rowanlall said at 10.30pm that Thursday night, Cheryl was on Mxit with her cousin, Charlotte Goberdin, 24, of Phoenix, and told her she had a surprise for the family." She also told Charlotte that it was extremely cold at the lodge and they planned to check out the following morning (Friday) and drive to KwaDukuza to visit family. The conversation ended with Cheryl telling Charlotte she was tired and was going to bed. That was the last time we heard from her."

Rowanlall said late on Friday evening, they received a call from a policeman at Ntabamhlope, informing them about the double tragedy. “The policeman told us Dhiren and Cheryl were "found dead in the bathtub" on Friday morning, by a cleaner. He said "both were naked and in a compromising position, in the bathtub".  The cold water tap from the shower was left running.

At the time, the Ntabamhlope policeman believed the couple had died from carbon-monoxide poisoning, due to gas inhalation from either the heater or the geyser. He (the policeman) told us there was no sign of forced entry into the room and the couple’s valuables were intact."

  • However, the family members who went to Ntabamhlope on Saturday were left with a string of "unanswered questions", she said. "At the State mortuary in Estcourt, while we were there, the pathologist took about 15 minutes to conduct the post-mortem on both bodies…She (the pathologist) attributed the cause of death to gas inhalation. She also said the couple had not been intimate. However, we were not convinced with her findings about the cause of death and asked private pathologist, Dr Reggie Perumal, to conduct a second post mortem.

"Both Cheryl and Dhiren appeared to have been brutally assaulted. Their bodies were black and blue. Dhiren’s lips were swollen, his ribs were crushed and he had a gash on his face. "To us, these injuries seemed inconsistent with gas inhalation. Also, their underwear and the clothing they had been wearing that night, seemed to have disappeared."
Rowanlall said after identifying the bodies, family members went to the lodge where they were allowed "easy access by security".

"We spoke to the owner who refused to divulge any information. Staff also said "they did not hear or see anything".
"What was even more strange was that almost 48 hours after the incident, not a single guest at the lodge had any knowledge of what had happened. Some were taken aback when we told them about the deaths."

Dhiren’s brother-in-law, Sachin Mahadeo, said he was shocked to see what appeared to be fist and boot marks, on his body. "He was beaten to a pulp and I am convinced by more than one person. His injuries show he fought until the very end. "Also, management and staff at the lodge were secretive and refused to co-operate. They also told us there had been no deaths or murders at the lodge in the past. "This raised our concerns, because less than 10 months ago, another Indian man from Durban was found dead, apparently murdered, in the same chalet and the same lodge."

————————

JAYRAJ DEONARAIN OCT 2009 DEATH IN SAME HOTEL ROOM…

WhiteMountainLodge KZN In October last year, Reservoir Hills insurance broker Jayraj (Jay) Deonarain, 63, also died under mysterious circumstances while attending a conference with his wife Malthee, 51. At the time it was reported that Deonarain was found dead by his wife in the bathroom. Speculation was also rife that he had died of a heart attack or food poisoning.

However, his family had also called in Dr Perumal, who revealed that Deonarain had died “as a result of being strangled and hit on the head with a blunt object”. Four months later, his petite wife was charged with murder and is out on R5,000 bail. She is expected to undergo a psychiatric assessment at the Fort Napier Hospital, in Pietermaritzburg in the next few weeks.

Both Rowanlall and Mahadeo, described the engaged couple’s death as "sadistic" and pledged that they would not stop their quest for the truth. "We want to know who killed this innocent couple and why? We are hoping the post-mortem report by Dr Perumal will be finalised this week and we can take action. This was murder most foul and their killers must be brought to book."

The independent consultant, Dr Perumal told POST on Tuesday that he had ruled out carbon-monoxide poisoning as the cause of death."

There was significant injury on the male and this is definitely not a clear cut case. I have to conduct further tests and will discuss my findings with the investigating officer before I make my report public."I also find it strange that this couple was killed in the same room as Deonarain."

Cheryl is survived by her parents Charlie, 49, a businessman, Chandini, 44, a home executive, and sisters Charlene, 26 and Cherise, two. Dhiren is survived by his mother Reena, 52, a machine operator, sister Kashmira, 33, and brother Harry, 34. His father Roy died 10 years ago. A joint funeral service for the couple took place at the Stanger Siva Sungam Hall, in High Ridge, on Monday, before they were buried side-by-side at the Stanger Cemetery.

The owner of the lodge, an elderly white woman, who did not want to disclose her name, refused to comment. Ntabamhlope police have opened an inquest docket, much against the grain of the dead couple’s families.
* This article was originally published on page 1 of The Post on August 04, 2010

About Adriana Stuijt
Retired South African-Dutch journalist formerly Sunday Times Johannesburg

One Response to Three mystery deaths at White Mountain lodge, Ntabamphlope KZN

  1. allredlfc says:

    I was there a few years ago…I hope this isn’t organised murder

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: