Days before Pietermaritzburg businesswoman Kavitha Nerputh was found strangled to death, locked in her luxury SUV at a secluded spot in Alexandra Park on Monday night, she feared for her life and that of her family.
Nerputh, from Stella Road, Newholmes, Northdale, who ran a herbal weight-loss tea business at Camps Drift business park, and who had been embroiled in several harassment and protection orders, had expressed her concerns about their safety over the weekend to her young adult children, Aryana (19) and Junior (22) — both law students.
‘All she wanted was extra protection’
“She was absolutely scared on Sunday and very emotional. She had gone to the police on several occasions begging for more security and for them to take action on the protection order she had obtained, but was ignored.
“She just felt that we were not safe, that we were being stalked and that something was going to happen.
“All she wanted was extra protection and she was never given that,” said an emotional Junior.
An angry Aryana who, together with Junior, was called to the scene to identify their mother’s body on Monday night, said she was devastated over her mother’s death.
‘Someone has robbed us of our mother’
“All I want to say is that someone has robbed us of our mother. That’s all there is to it at the end of the day — we don’t have our mother any longer. She’s been taken away from us. There’s nothing more to say — just the history of everything to look at,” said Aryana.
Describing herself as being “uneasy” for most of Monday, Aryana said because of her mother’s anxiety over her safety, she was concerned about her and had called her several times in the day.
“I was just uneasy and wanted my mum. I felt this urgent need to be with my mum for the entire day.
“We spoke to each other many times in the day, but when she didn’t call at 5pm — as she normally does to check if we needed anything from the shops before she returned home — we became a bit concerned.
“We gave her a few minutes and then called her but her cellphones were switched off. We checked her WhatsApp profile and saw that she was last online at 4.17 pm and at 11.20 am. We started really panicking.”
“She was all we had and now she is no more”
They called her continuously, called other people, and drove around in the area before driving to the business premises.
“Junior and I jumped into the car and made our way to the business premises at Camps Drift. On our way there, we got a call to say that she had been found and we were needed at the scene to identify her. She was all we had and now she is no more,” said Aryana.
A family spokesperson, who did not want to be named, said the family had been torn apart with the harassment court matters.
“It’s been extremely stressful. Kavitha and her family have been through so much. They have been on tenterhooks as they know and have experienced that they were being stalked.
“She was killed in such a senseless manner”
“It’s heart-breaking to think that she was killed in such a senseless manner,” said the spokesperson.
Nerputh’s elderly parents said they were distraught over her callous death, describing her as their “everything”.
“She was a loving person who gave her all to those around her. She was our everything.
“Our worlds revolved around each other. We lived for her and she lived for us and her children,” said her mother, Mrs Mac (who didn’t want to reveal her first name).
Not wanting to speculate on circumstances around her death, her mother said Nerputh had not involved them with the details of all the court cases.
“While we are aware of what was basically happening, we didn’t know the finer details. Kavitha, as always, didn’t want anything to trouble us.
“She told us what she thought we needed to know so that we wouldn’t be too concerned about things. She confided in her two elder children,” said the mother.
She said, however, that while she did not want to blame anyone, they had their suspicions.
“I don’t want to mention names, but whoever was hell-bent on destroying her and making her life a misery, ultimately got what they wanted. And their justice will be served by God. We leave it in His hands,” said the mother.
KZN police spokesperson Colonel Thembeka Mbele said the Alexandra Road police were investigating a case of murder.
“The police broke the back window of the vehicle to remove the body”
“It is suspected that the 41-year-old woman was strangled as she was found inside the vehicle where all doors were locked. The police broke the back window of the vehicle to remove the body,” said Mbele.
Members of the SAPS dog unit were patrolling the area on the look-out for another vehicle when they came across Nerputh’s lifeless body in her locked car. It is believed Nerputh was with someone known to her as nothing besides her cellphones and car keys were taken.
A source said that whoever had left her in the car on Monday night, had locked the car in a way that meant the doors could not be opened at all.
It is believed police came across her car at around 7pm and managed to get her out about 15 minutes later. She was declared dead shortly afterwards.
Kavitha Nerputh’s funeral will take place on Wednesday at the Aryan Hall, Khan Road, Raisethorpe from 1pm, proceeding to the Cedar Ridge crematorium in Cato Ridge at 4pm.
READ MORE: Woman ordered to stop online harassment
In March last year Kavitha Nerputh secured a protection order against a former friend, Yugeshnie Reddy.
She vehemently denies ever harassing Nerputh. On Tuesday, Reddy told The Witness that she is appealing the granting of the order. She said she heard about Nerputh’s death after it happened on Monday from one of Nerputh’s family members.
“I am in shock. I pray that the police get to the bottom of this because nobody deserves to die the way she did,” added Reddy.
The women were friends before their relationship soured.
They gave the court different reasons as to why this happened, each blaming the other. Nerputh then found herself being harassed on social media, particularly on Facebook.
The magistrate who granted the order warned both women how serious harassment matters are taken.
The crux of Nerputh’s complaint was content referring to her as a “sex trader” and “prostitute”.
In August 2017, Nerputh brought an urgent application to stop the online harassment, which dragged on until last March. Reddy opposed the application and then brought a counter-application against Nerputh, saying she was in fact the one being harassed by Nerputh.
The magistrate dismissed Reddy’s application saying it had no “merit”.
The magistrate said the Facebook profiles created for Nerputh were not real. Her photos were used without her consent and slanderous comments about her were placed on her profile, such as “prostitute”.
Reddy repeatedly labelled Nerputh as a prostitute, emphasised the magistrate, who found that Reddy calling Nerputh a “whore” on Facebook and other media platforms — which are accessible to everyone in the world — was harassment.
Friend mourns an ‘amazingly genuine person’
“She was an amazingly genuine person. She would not fight insult with insult, no matter what was thrown at her. Only good would come out of her mouth.”
This is how Durban businesswoman Shiloh Woodarajh described Nerputh.
Woodarajh said she was shocked when she saw the news of Nerputh’s death on The Witness Facebook page on Tuesday morning.
“One of my acquaintances sent me a screen grab of the story. I was so shocked … I struggled to breathe. It’s still hard to believe. I pray that the perpetrators are arrested soon,” she said.
Woodarajh said the slain businesswoman had in the past raised concerns about being stalked, although she declined to divulge any details.
“She feared for her life, but she didn’t fear death”
“She was actually advised to move away from her PMB home. She feared for her life, but she didn’t fear death. She feared more for her children and what would happen to them.”
Speaking fondly of her friend, Woodarajh said although Nerputh portrayed a life of opulence and glamour, she was kind and generous.
“No matter how flashy she was in terms of her wealth, she never kept that wealth to herself,” she said.
The founder of Perfect Shade Cosmetics recalled how the murdered single mother supported her during a trying time in her business.
“She stood by me and my husband when there was a smear campaign against my business. She was happy to do things for me behind the scene and never wanted any credit.”
A tenacious businesswoman
Although they had not spoken in recent months due to work commitments, Woodarajh said she had met Nerputh a couple of years ago when she used to frequent her cosmetics store in Umhlanga, and the two soon developed a friendship.
Woodarajh was among friends who also stood by Nerputh during her harassment matter. She said she remained positive and upbeat, despite everything. “She always maintained a positive attitude. I don’t know how she did it on a daily basis, but she was determined to get her justice.”
She described Nerputh as a tenacious businesswoman who put in extra effort in everything she did.
“Kavitha worked hard.
“Nobody gave her anything on a silver platter. She would be at work at 4 am. She was extremely hard working and she would refuse for anybody to do anything for her. Whatever she got in life, she worked for it.”
Woodarajh praised how Nerputh made a name for herself in the business fraternity despite having little formal education.
“She came from a very poor background. She was intelligent despite leaving school in Standard 6 [Grade 8]. She had a wealth of knowledge and she was streetwise.”
On a lighter note, Nerputh said she would forever miss their “pamper sessions” and lunches.
“She loved getting her hair and feet done and spending time with her children and family. I’m devastated for them. She held her family together and did everything for them.”
Pietermaritzburg reacts to news of Nerputh’s death
The news of Nerputh’s tragic death sent shockwaves through the community.
Many expressed their shock and sent condolences to her family and friends.
Rani Dukhanti said: “I’m totally shattered by this news! Dearest Kavitha, always so positive and upbeat, despite everything. How could such a heinous thing be done to you. You were so filled with wonderful dreams for your future! RIP sweetheart. A wonderful soul, gone too soon.”
Said Seetha Gopal: “Such devastating shocking news. A beautiful soul and a model mum, my heart breaks for her parents and kids. What a heinous crime, hope our below-average SAPS don’t fluff this one up too.”
Kwanele Mkhize said: “The saddest thing is that SAPS will keep on investigating until people forget about the incident. This has to stop! Our government need to do something. The rate of women being murdered is drastically increasing and all we get from the government are just silly campaigns of violence against women …”
Donna-Leigh Roux said: “Such terrible news … May this case not go unsolved and may her killers be brought to justice!!!”
“Alexandra Park is no more a beautiful relaxing place to visit. We used to go to the outdoor gym after my husband had his stroke, but not anymore. It is an unsafe place for anyone. I won’t even take a shortcut drive through there,” said Colette van Loggerenberg.
Sharda Pillay said: “RIP dear friend. I will always remember the sweet, kind, gentle and compassionate woman l knew. Gone in such a cruel manner. God be with your children.”
Rhoda Rughbeer said: “Condolences to Her family. Junior, Ariyana, Zia, Nani and Uncle, my heart bleeds for you. May God be your strength during this heart-breaking time.”
Said Coetzee Pather: “Wow. Shocking to what extent people will go to. But technology will catch the culprit. Cell phone video footages will assist the police in tracking that culprit. Condolences to the family.”
Leandra Naidoo said: “Once again children lose a mother. This sick world is creating a generation of motherless children. Nothing can replace a mother’s love and protection.”
“Devastating news, all because a lady is successful and the light in our family. Violence against women and children must end now. Praying for Justice to prevail,” Shirlene Neerputh said.
Chantal Magdalene Moodley said: “Woke up to devastating news. The pain and anger I feel right now is indescribable. A wonderful mother and daughter and friend gone to soon.”
And Kuvendran Cunnan said: “Aunty Kavitha always helped me better myself in so many ways, she was rare and a real gem. She will always live on in my heart.”
Nerputh’s weight-loss tea business closed following her death
Nerputh will also be remembered for her business, Foreverwell Tea, which sold a weight-loss tea and offered overall dietary advice to clients.
The business’ Facebook page boasts more than 6 500 “likes” and the product itself has a perfect 5/5 rating based on 157 reviews from satisfied customers.
One reviewer said the product had “solved all my problems”, including giving her a flatter stomach, helped with digestive regularity, and helped her skin glow and hair grow.
Foreverwell Tea was closed following Nerputh’s death. Nerputh was very much the face of her business, and her photo appears on its signage and promotional material.
It sold tea for R450 per box and offered nationwide shipping. According to information on the Facebook page, its ethos was to recommend better food choices to clients in conjunction with drinking the tea.
The Facebook page is awash with before and after photos of clients who had apparently lost weight through Foreverwell Tea.
The tea was also said to help with conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, depression and hypothyroidism, and was “all natural” and had “absolutely no side effects”.
Nerputh used the product she sold and on December 27 posted that it made her feel better than she did in her 20s, despite her being 41.
She described the tea as “miraculous” and said her “transformation has been nothing short of amazing”.
– additional reporting by Sharika Regchand and Nokuthula Khanyile