RAIWAQA is a farming community nestled in the interior of Navua.
While some residents of the area have been living there since birth, others have moved there over the years, particularly from Labasa.
One such family that moved to Raiwaqa from the Northern district was Davendra Kumar, 42, his wife Nirupa, 36, their two children Dipshika, 9, and Edwin, 3.
According to their neighbours, the Kumar family had moved to the area sometime in early 2006 to start a new life after facing land problems in Labasa.
While settling down in the area upon their arrival, the family managed to build friendly relationships with their neighbours, some of whom were from their district.
But their disappearance a few months after their arrival in the area sent shockwaves through the Raiwaqa community and the country as well.
The house they lived in was torn down a few years ago by Mr Kumar's relatives and the area is bushy now.
Jyanti Devi, the Kumar family's nearest neighbour in Raiwaqa, described to The Fiji Times what she knew about the family and when she last met them.
"I got to know them when they moved to the area about three months or so before they disappeared in 2006," she said.
"They were a very nice family and I used to call Davendra fufa (uncle) and his wife fua (aunt) and apart from farming, he also had a taxi.
"Since he was new to the Navua and Suva area, he asked my husband on a few occasions if he was interested in driving the taxi."
Ms Devi said she spoke with the family daily, even from their homes which were about 50 metres apart, and they would stop at her home when going somewhere.
Her house falls first and then where the Kumar family lived, which meant that the Kumars had to drive past her house when going to Navua Town.
"They disappeared during the Easter weekend in 2006 but I don't know what day it was as it's quite some time now after their disappearance," she said.
"But it was a day before their disappearance when the couple and their two children stopped at my house in the taxi."
Ms Devi said Mr Kumar told her that Mrs Kumar was sick and they were taking her to the Navua Hospital.
"So I went with them as I also had to go to Navua Town for some shopping.
"I came back with them and got off at my home. The next day, fua washed their clothes and hung them. Dipshika didn't go to school as it was raining heavily.
"She went to school daily with my daughter, who also stayed home that day because of the heavy rain."
Ms Devi said the Kumar family drove past her house later that day but they did not stop to say hello to her, something which surprised her.
"They always stopped at my place and spoke to me before going down but I was surprised why they didn't stop that day to say anything.
"When I woke up the next day, I didn't see their taxi and the clothes were still hanging outside and I called on their mobile phone.
"But their phone was diverted despite several calls. Other residents and myself were worried when they didn't turn up as days went by."
Ms Devi said a relative of Mr Kumar came about two weeks later to drop an invitation to the family but no one opened the door when he knocked at their house.
She said the relative then came to her and enquired about the family.
"I told him that their mobile phone was diverted when I tried to call them after they failed to return home.
"I think he then enquired with other relatives around and later reported to police that the family was missing."
Ms Devi said the Kumars' relatives gathered at her place that evening to enquire about the family.
She described the family as "very nice" and people who had become close to her family in the few months they lived in the area.
"It was after more than one year that two decomposed bodies were found at a beach in Navua and police also asked me if I recognised the clothes that were on the bodies.
"I recognised the micro-fibre shirt as that of fufa's as he always wore it, it was one of his favourites, and the dress was fua's."
Asked how she was so positive in identifying the clothes as that of the couple, she said, "I always saw them wearing those clothes and I immediately knew it was theirs."
Ms Devi said the family also attended the Assemblies of God Church in Calia, Navua and they had become close friends with the pastor and his wife.
Emmanuel AOG Church pastor Devendra Sagar said the Kumar family visited the church on the day they were last seen.
Mr Sagar said he was with his sick son at the Colonial War Memorial Hospital when the Kumar family went to church and met his wife about 3pm on that day.
"I can't remember the exact date as it's been quite some time now but my wife told me that the family had come back from the Navua Hospital," he said.
"My wife was tired when they came about 3pm and my wife called me and said they were there and the Navua River was very flooded.
"They (Kumar family) helped in putting the musical instruments and other things up as they could have been damaged if Navua River burst its banks and flooded the area.
"There was another family in church at that time too and my wife told both families that she was tired and was going to take a nap while they chat."
Mr Sagar said according to his wife, the two families spoke for a long time and when she woke up later in the evening, the Kumar family was still in church while the other had left.
"It was a bit dark when my wife woke up and the Kumar family later decided to go but instead of making a right turn towards their house, they turned left towards town."
He said the family's house documents, taxi documents, a mobile phone and Mr Kumar's tertiary qualification certificates were found on a pew in church the next day.
"When I knew about it, I wondered why they had left the papers behind on the last pew in church."
Mr Sagar said they kept the documents thinking that the family forgot them there and they would come back later and collect them.
He said it was not until about two weeks later when Mr Kumar's relative came to drop a birthday invitation it was discovered that the family was missing.
"It was very hard times for us too as there were suspicions and attacks on the church as the important documents were found in the church but we prayed a lot.
"After more than one year, two decomposed bodies were found at Taunovo and the clothes were identified as that of Mr and Mrs Kumar.
"Those were hard times and it took a lot of time for things to heal."
Mr Sagar said the Kumars were very new members from Labasa and the whole family had been to church about three or four times before their disappearance.
He described the family as "very nice" and people who spoke to everyone well.
NEXT WEEK: The search for the