Mother’s Day grief: Mom shares pain on 15th death anniversary of her son Raelin Devnarain

Pradantha Devnarain and her son Raelin. Picture: Supplied

Pradantha Devnarain and her son Raelin. Picture: Supplied

Published May 12, 2024


Fifteen years ago Pradhantha’s Devnarain’s life was turned into turmoil when her only son, six-year-old Raelin Devnarain was brutally murdered while doing his homework and as she was left for dead.

The grade 1 pupil had been eating a pizza and doing his homework — building a family tree — when robbers pounced, and he was hammered to death.

His mother was laying in the bedroom dying after she was attacked and she spent five weeks in the intensive care unit in hospital. When she woke up, she heard the news that her son was dead.

Six-year-old Raelin Devnarain was brutally killed in 2009. He would have turned 21 this year. Picture: Supplied

On the 15th death anniversary of her son’s death, the 41-year-old spoke to IOL saying that she made a decision to either live or die.

“I chose to live, I promised my son that I would make him proud and he has half of my heart so I chose to live for him, honour him.”

Raelin would have turned 21 this year.

His killers, Eric Hadebe, 27; and Lucky Zuma, 29 were each sentenced to life imprisonment for murder, 20 years for attempted murder and 15 years for robbery.

A memorial site near Pradantha’s home in her new province has been set up in his honour. Picture: Supplied

They were sentenced in the Pietermaritzburg High Court in 2009. Hadebe was Devnarain’s former gardener.

Shocking post-mortem results revealed Raelin suffered three hammer gashes to his head – on the left side of his skull, at the back of his head and one towards his right ear.

The mother and son had been in their Primrose Road, Northdale home, on the evening of March 12, 2009, when tragedy struck.

The family tree project Raelin Devnarain had been working on when robbers struck. Picture: Supplied

Pradhantha said her last recollection of that evening was watching her son do his homework and enjoying his favourite pizza — extra cheese and salami — and then opening the gate for her gardener who had arrived at her home to pick up a stove.

“I woke up five weeks later in hospital unable to remember anything and then hearing the news that my son was no more.”

She said according to her knowledge her son’s killers were still behind bars and she has received no information about their parole.

Pradhantha, who was a former executive personal assistant at Price Waterhouse Coopers (PwC), has also relocated from Pietermaritzburg and was currently living in another province.

She beat the odds and surprised doctors when she recovered from 14 stab wounds, five fractures to her skull, a punctured lung, a burst eardrum and losing seven pints of blood.

“Doctors predicted that I wouldn’t live and if I did I would be a vegetable,” said Pradhantha.

For her son’s 21st birthday Devnarain travelled to his gravesite in Pietermaritzburg. Picture: Supplied

“I’m glad that the only memories I have are happy ones with my son and not of that treacherous night.”

She said her brother, who made the discovery the next morning, found her chained in the room and left for dead.

“He told me it appeared that I put up quite a fight. I am heartbroken my child had to go through this, but as a mother I take solace knowing that he died on impact. No one should have to go through this.”

To mark what would have been her son’s milestone 21st birthday on March 23, Pradhantha said she travelled to Pietermaritzburg where she placed flowers on her son’s grave and had a little prayer with the priest.

“I often wonder what he would have been like. I am pretty sure he would have told me to get a better car, so that’s what I did,” she quipped adding that her son was always with her,“ she said.

“He has half my heart.”

She said in his young age Raelin loved church.

“His grave is close to the church and it’s comforting.”

Pradhantha’s special days — her birthday and Mother’s Day — are a stark reminders of her loss, but said she chooses to take every day one day at a time.

“There is no time frame of grief, some days are lighter than others.”

She does not have any other children and reflects on her first time she found out she was pregnant with her Raelin.

“When he kicked it literally left like bubbles. A memory I hold on to dearly.”

When days gets tough, Pradhantha said she remembers that God spared her life for a reason.

“I’ve made peace with it. I still seek professional help and I have come to understand that God will deal with people who play with the lives of others.”

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