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The Prabha Wati murder mystery

Avinesh Gopal
Tuesday, June 03, 2014

IT is almost five years since the partly burnt body of a woman was found in a cassava plantation some distance away from her home and a temple.

But since then, the police have not received any concrete information or solid evidence to close the case, which is being treated as murder.

The burnt body of Prabha Wati, 58, of Brewster St in Toorak, Suva was found about 20 metres away from her home about 2am on October 23, 2009.

On the front page of October 24, 2009, The Fiji Times reported that a post-mortem examination showed Ms Wati died of suffocation due to strangulation.

Samuela Minikula, a security officer who was on duty at the Hare Rama Hare Krishna temple on Brewster St told this newspaper then that noises from the cassava patch woke him from his nap about 1:30am on October 23.

"When I stood up, I saw a carrier, a three-tonne carrier parked outside the garment factory (Yong Hong Garments).

"It started its engine and then drove off. I only saw one person, the driver," he had said.

"I could see light right opposite where I was sitting so I started towards the gate and I was curious because that place is usually dark.

"When the truck left, I went towards where the light was coming from.

"About six feet from where I was standing, I saw something was burning in the cassava patch. I checked my watch, it was 2am.

"I went closer and couldn't make out what it was so I went around it and that was when I saw the lady's legs.

"I knew instantly it was an Indian woman's legs because they were so small."

Mr Minikula told this newspaper that he saw the woman's body was burnt from the waist to her head.

He then went to the Toorak Police Post and reported the discovery.

It was also reported on October 24, 2009 that Ms Wati's son Rohit Prasad and his wife were also taken to the Central Police Station for questioning.

This newspaper had also reported that family members of the deceased woman were too distraught to talk when approached.

Yesterday, when The Fiji Times approached Mr Prasad, he declined to talk to this newspaper about the investigations, saying he was "fed-up".

However, he did admit that the police had taken him and his wife in on a few occasions for questioning in connection with his mother's death at that time but not recently.

On January 29, 2010, Mr Prasad had told this newspaper that the police even took his seven-year-old daughter to the police station where the detectives asked her in abrupt fashion if she had seen either of her parents strangle her grandmother.

Mr Prasad also told this newspaper then that a lot of people's attitude towards the family had changed with the exception of a few friends who were still standing by them.

On February 8, 2012, this newspaper reported that the police file on Ms Wati's death was still open and there was no clue on the murder.

It was also reported then that the police had questioned Ms Wati's son and daughter-in-law a few times in connection with the matter.

"But there are no clues so far in the death of the woman. The police are still carrying out investigations and we need to have strong evidence to charge someone and produce that person in court," police spokesman Inspector Atunaisa Sokomuri had said then.

Last week, Insp Sokomuri said there was still no progress in investigations into Ms Wati's murder.

"The case file is still open and there have been no strong leads or any key suspects so far," he said.

Yesterday, Insp Sokomuri said the police had received no feedback or any new information from the public regarding the case.

"There has been no response so far and no one has even called to say he or she knows something about the case," he said.

"But we are requesting the public to contact their nearest police station or community post if they know anything about the murder.

"There must be someone who knows something about it."

The case file on Ms Wati's murder remains open and the police are relying on any new information that may surface that could help them solve the almost five-year-old murder case.





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