Post mortem reveals mom of three did not commit suicide

A post-mortem report has confirmed that the death of a Durban woman, Julie Rajpaul, was caused by manual strangulation. Her boyfriend of seven years has been charged for her alleged murder. Picture: Facebook

A post-mortem report has confirmed that the death of a Durban woman, Julie Rajpaul, was caused by manual strangulation. Her boyfriend of seven years has been charged for her alleged murder. Picture: Facebook

Published Apr 7, 2024


FIVE months ago, the family of a Durban woman was made to believe that she had taken her own life after she was found dead at her North Beach flat.

On October 26, last year, Julie Rajpaul, 48, a correctional services officer at the Westville Prison, was found slumped over the toilet seat.

At the time, it was believed the mother of three – to a daughter, 23, and sons aged 21 and 15 – had used a jacket, tied to the burglar guard on the window above the toilet, to “commit suicide”.

However, it has now emerged that Rajpaul was allegedly assaulted and strangled by her live-in boyfriend of seven years, Ashley Mahadeo.

He was arrested after a post-mortem report confirmed Rajpaul’s death had been caused by “manual strangulation”.

In November last year, Mahadeo, 49, a mechanic, was arrested and charged with murder. He appeared in the Durban Magistrate’s Court and was granted bail.

Rajpaul’s sister, who declined to be named, said they were now in pursuit of justice as the trial was expected to get underway soon.

She told the POST this week that they had only learnt of Mahadeo’s arrest earlier this year.

“Our family could not come to terms with the claims that Julie had committed suicide. We kept trying to figure out the reason for her death. In January, a relative found out that there had been an arrest and who the person was.

“We were disappointed that the family had not been informed of his arrest and that he had been given bail. But this move came as a huge relief to us because we knew our sister’s character and that she was not selfish enough to kill herself - leaving her children and family to endure such pain.

“We have since been following the case and hope justice prevails. Our sister was robbed of her life. She had dreams and goals, one of which she had just achieved. Julie had studied nursing and was going to start a new job as a professional nurse at the prison on November 1. She never got the chance to fulfil her dream,” she said.

The sister said a day before Rajpaul was allegedly killed, she had made a decision to leave the relationship.

“She confided in me about the problems she was having and I think she came to a breaking point and decided that she had enough of the relationship. The day before her death, she had called me that evening at about 6pm. She asked if I could fetch her from work the next day at midday and help to move her belongings from the flat. She had already found another flat in Morningside.

“We spoke for about 20 minutes and I told her that I had to go out for a bit and would call her when I was back. However, when I tried to call later that night, she did not answer. I messaged her daughter to check if she had spoken to Julie and if she was okay. She said that he was fighting with her mother and if I could pick her up.

“I tried calling my sister again, but there was no answer. Just as I was about to leave, her daughter messaged me to say that Julie had messaged that everything was fine and not to come as she was going to sleep,” she said.

The woman said she received a call from a police officer at about 1.30am.

“He asked if I knew Julie, to which I replied that she was my sister. He said, ‘sorry, your sister committed suicide’. I was shocked. When I arrived at the house, my sister was slumped over the toilet seat and her clothes were rolled up.

“Her hands were blue and the bone at the back of her neck was jutting out. They said she used a jacket and hanged herself from the window above the toilet. But it didn't make sense. My sister was quite tall and the window was very low.

“The next day, when we went to collect her body from the mortuary, her face was severely injured. She did not even look like my sister. After seeing this, we requested that a post-mortem be done. Finally, after months of wanting to know exactly how she died, we saw the results - which confirmed she had been strangled,” she said.

The woman said her sister’s death had gravely impacted their family.

“Her children have become so withdrawn and our 73-year-old mother cannot come to terms with the fact that she is gone. Every day she holds a picture of Julie and talks to her. She doesn’t stop crying. It is heart-breaking. I also think what is hurting her more, is seeing the person responsible for her death, walking around freely.

”But we will never see my sister again... She was a loving, caring and hard-working woman. We had a tough childhood, and her goal was to study hard and achieve all her dreams, which included becoming a nurse. She wanted to make something of her life and give her children everything she could. Now, all we want is justice for her and that the person responsible for robbing her of her life be put behind bars,” she said.

Ashley Mahadeo. Supplied