Home South African KZN mom’s agonising 39-day search for missing son ends at mortuary

KZN mom’s agonising 39-day search for missing son ends at mortuary

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Eugene Reddy, 31, was allegedly assaulted on December 14 by a group of men who accused him of stealing from a temple.

Eugene Reddy. Picture: Facebook

Durban – For 39 days, Kogie Abbas walked the streets of Chatsworth in search of her son who was missing since December. Her search recently ended when his decomposed body was found at the mortuary of the Prince Mshiyeni Hospital in uMlazi.

Eugene Reddy, 31, was allegedly assaulted on December 14 by a group of men who accused him of stealing from a temple in Moorton, Chatsworth. Reddy, who was unemployed, died soon after arriving at the hospital by ambulance.

Two videos of the attack surfaced on social media on Friday, and three suspects were arrested on Sunday.

In the first video clip, Reddy sits on the roadside and cleans the grass off the socks of one of his alleged attackers. The man accuses him of stealing, which Reddy denies. The man then slaps him and walks away. Another man is heard using vulgarities on Reddy.

In the second video clip, Reddy is lying on the ground in a foetal position holding his head. He is surrounded by a group of men. He tells them that there is something wrong with his head. He moans in pain.

Upon hearing this, one of the alleged attackers kicks him multiple times while another mocks his moans. He was left unconscious with a cigarette stuck in his belly button.

Captain Nqobile Gala, a provincial police spokesperson, said the suspects, aged between 19 and 20, were arrested by investigators from Chatsworth SAPS.

“They will appear in court soon. The arrest follows after a 31-year-old male was severely assaulted in the area of Moorton during December 2020.”

She said ambulance services transported Reddy to a hospital where he died from his injuries on December 14.

Abbas, who wants justice for her son’s killing, believes the police and the Department of Health had failed her.

“I lived in Welbedatcht with Eugene. On the day he went missing, we were at my aunt’s house in Moorton. He then wanted to go to Demat to visit my sister and then my friend. I thought he would return home by the time I arrived, but he was not there. I got worried and called my sister and my friend, but they said they had not seen him.”

She continued her search on December 15.

“I am unemployed. The only money I receive is the unemployment grant. I did not have money to take a taxi, so I walked from my home to his usual hangouts. I asked people about his whereabouts, but they pointed me in different directions.”

On December 17, she reported him missing at Chatsworth SAPS.

“This was unusual behaviour for him. I borrowed money from family and made flyers to hand out to people. I called the mortuary in Pinetown, which is the closest to Chatsworth, and I was told they had a body of an Indian man, but it was not my son.”

On January 22, the investigating officer notified her that the body of an unidentified man was kept in the mortuary at Prince Mshiyeni Hospital.

“The body was transferred to the Park Rynie mortuary, where I was taken. My son’s body was badly decomposed. I could not see his face properly, but I identified him by the shape of his ear, his arm and his beard. His body did not look like it was not properly cared for, or kept in a freezer. It seemed like it was stuffed in a corner somewhere in the hospital and left to decompose.”

Abbas said she later found out that he was accused of stealing from a temple and was assaulted.

“I don’t believe he stole anything. I did not raise my son to be a thief. He was honest, respectful and helpful. If he was suspected of stealing, why didn’t his attackers call the police? Why did they take the law into their own hands?”

She said she watched the video clips of the assault on Friday.

“They kicked, booted and slapped my son. He was crying out in pain. I want those responsible to pay for what they did. They killed my son, and they must live the rest of their lives behind bars. Their parents must feel the pain I am feeling. I am going through hell thinking about his last moments and what he had to endure. He was my only child. I have lost someone who was a big part of my life.”

Reddy’s cremation is expected to take place later this week.

The Department of Health did not comment at the time of publication.

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