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The witchdoctor reveals it all

Avinesh Gopal
Tuesday, September 12, 2017

IT was about 8.30pm on March 12, 2000 when police detectives started questioning a so-called witchdoctor in connection with a taxidriver's murder.

The taxidriver was last seen in Nadi Town in the evening of March 7, taking three young men to Sigatoka.

He was supposed to return home the same night but when he failed to do so until the next morning, his family became worried.

His taxi was found burnt at Nasau, in the interior of Nadi, on March 8 and this prompted police to mount an extensive investigation.

Apart from knowing that the taxidriver had taken two Fijians of Indian descent and an iTaukei men to Sigatoka, police did not have any other information.

While visiting the driver's house in Nawaka, Nadi during the investigations, police detectives came across a so-called witchdoctor whom many of them knew for some time.

The man told them about his dreams of the missing driver.

On the night of March 10, he told them where the missing driver's body was lying.

Police detectives arrived at the spot pointed out by the witchdoctor at around sunrise on March 11 and they found the driver's decomposed body with a green nylon rope tied around his neck.

The body was found lying down a hill at Ciriwai, some distance from the Queens Rd between Nadi and Sigatoka.

In the evening of March 11, the witchdoctor performed some "prayers" in the presence of police officers at the Sabeto police bure.

He was dropped at his home in Nawaka at about 5am on March 12, which was a Sunday, after he told police detectives that he could not recall anything.

At about 7pm on March 12, the investigating team decided to get the witchdoctor in for questioning with regards to the taxidriver's murder.

The witchdoctor was taken in to the crime office at Nadi Police Station and it was about 10.30pm, after about two hours of questioning, when he started telling police about the taxidriver's murder.

Dharmen Chandra, a former police detective who now lives in Modesto, California, US, said the witchdoctor told police who the mastermind was as she had arranged with his younger brother to kill the taxidriver.

"He also told us that his younger brother had made arrangements with a Fijian man of Indian descent and an iTaukei man to assist him in killing the taxidriver," he said.

"We had finally got our breakthrough in this murder investigation.

"The so-called witchdoctor finally admitted that a day after the murder, he had visited the place where the driver's body was dumped and that's how he was able to tell us where the body was.

"He also told us that he had lied about all the dreams."

Mr Chandra said the "witchdoctor's" wife was brought to the crime office and she was interrogated by a Fijian of Indian descent police detective.

He said the other detectives did not pay much attention to that interrogation, thinking that the detective knew his job and he would carry out the interrogation as required.

"We were given to understand that the officer who was interrogating her did not complete her interview since he had suspended it for the night and by morning she had been advised by her lawyer to remain silent," he said.

"She was never charged as an accomplice or accessory to murder. It was sad that that particular police detective did not do his job properly."

Mr Chandra said it was around midday on March 13 (Monday) when the police investigating team arrested the three suspects in the murder case.

He said a lot of people had gathered outside the Nadi Police Station wanting to know who the suspects were.

"Their presence would have hindered our investigations when taking the suspects for reconstruction of the scene. We then decided to use the Namaka police bure and Sabeto Police Station.

"I was instructed to interview under caution one of the suspects, a Fijian of Indian descent, one detective interviewed the other Fijian of Indian descent suspect while an iTaukei officer interviewed the other."

Mr Chandra said it was about 3.30pm on the same day when he commenced the written caution interview of one of the suspects in relation to the taxidriver's murder.

He said the interview was suspended after a few hours to allow the suspect to rest at night and for it to recommence the next morning.

It was about 9am on March 14 when Mr Chandra recommenced with the caution interview of the suspect.

Mr Chandra said the suspect admitted to him that he killed the taxidriver with the assistance of the other two suspects.

NEXT WEEK: The final part — how the taxidriver was killed.

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