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Mystery N3 death plunge | News

Mystery surrounds the death of a retired La Lucia civil engineer after his body was found under a bridge, near Shongweni, two days after he had been reported missing by his family.

Rajan Naidoo, 63, a chronic diabetic, went missing on Monday, the day he started a part-time job.

Rescuers spent hours on Wednesday trying to retrieve his body, lodged 78 metres below the bridge on the N3.

Rescuetech spokesman, Nic Holmes, said a double pulley system was used to pull the body up.

“Two lines were sent over the bridge and these connected to the rescue basket at the bottom. It was a double hauling system – so two teams pulled up the basket.”

On Monday, Naidoo had telephoned his wife and told her he was enjoying his first day.

But the company said he had not arrived at work.

His son, Sashen Naidoo, told the Daily News on Wednesday that his father had left at 7am on Monday for his workplace in Westmead.

“He had recently retired and was bored at home so an old colleague organised him a job,” he said.

Private investigator, Brad Nathanson, said the family had contacted him at 4pm on Tuesday after they had had no success in tracking down Naidoo.

“His wife called him at 11am on Monday and he said he was enjoying his first day at work. At 5pm he SMSed his wife to say he would be home at about 6pm but he never arrived.”

Nathanson said Rajan required an insulin injection once a day.

“On Tuesday his wife called his work but they said they didn’t know where he was and that he hadn’t arrived at work on Monday.”

Once Nathanson was contacted by the family, he triangulated Rajan’s phone to the Shongweni area.

“The triangulation is not a GPS co-ordinate, it’s just a geographical average,” he said.

“We tried calling his phone and sending messages in case people had him.”

Nathanson said he received a call at 6am on Wednesday from Rajan’s brother to say they had found his car at about midnight.

It was taken to the Hillcrest police station but nothing out of the ordinary was found inside.

The car was found on the N3, facing Pietermaritzburg, near a bridge just before the Shongweni off-ramp.

“I went out there and looked down and saw what I thought was a body. I climbed down into the gorge and found it was his body,” Nathanson said.

An SAPS search and rescue member, who requested anonymity because he was not authorised to speak to the media, said they had to set up an intricate system to remove the body because of the height and the dense bush.

“He was at the bottom of the gorge. The whole process took about three hours in total. Half the highway had to be closed off as well while we worked,” he said.

Members of ER24, metro police, the Road Traffic Inspectorate, Rescue Tech and Crisis Care Line were also in attendance.

It is not yet known what caused Rajan’s death.

Nathanson said he did not know what the circumstances surrounding Rajan’s disappearance were, but that the family suspected foul play.

“They said he had no reason to be unhappy. He was retired, had money and a new job.”

Police spokesman, Captain Thulani Zwane, confirmed that the body of a man had been found.

“A case will be opened for investigation at Hillcrest police station. The cause of death is unknown at this stage,” he said.

In September 2012, a 35-year-old man escaped death after falling from the same bridge.

He broke his arm and injured his neck and back but miraculously survived.

His car was also found, at the time, parked nearby on the highway.

- Published in Independent Newspapers on 13 February 2014.

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