Vanished without a trace – hubby charged with murder

Venessa Pillay has been missing since the July 24, 2017.

Forty-four-year old Ravi Chetty who lives in Saraswathi Road Northdale appeared in the regional magistrate’s court on Tuesday initially charged with defeating the ends of justice and perjury linked to the case of his wife Venessa “Arlene” Chetty (35) who has been missing since July this year.

Based on information presented by the investigating officer Captain Eshone Manickum the court took the unusual but not unprecedented decision to add charges of kidnapping and murder against Chetty who was then remanded in custody until a formal bail application.

Ravi Chetty is facing charges of kidnapping and murder linked to the disappearance of his wife Venessa Pillay

And in a shocking development Public Eye has learnt that last year a suspect was arrested after police uncovered a conspiracy to have Venessa murdered. It is believed the suspect approached two men living at the Khan Road informal settlement offering them cash to assist in the murder The suspect was arrested and found in possession of rope, a knife and a gallon of petrol. The intelligence-driven investigation concluded the man, with the help of his two accomplices intended murdering Venessa and then burning her body. The suspect was charged for conspiracy to murder. At the time of going to press Public Eye couldn’t establish whether he was released on bail or whether the charges were withdrawn.

Since Venessa Pillay vanished without a trace four months ago family have been frantic with fear mounting with police a desperate search but to date no-one managed to make any direct contact with her.

Shortly after Venessa went missing her family received several anonymous text messages purportedly sent by her asking that they “give her space”.

A month later they received another text message which stated “I will come back when I am ready. Tell ‘Ma’ I am sorry”. However after police released a missing person’s report which was published by the media, the family received a third text message, again purportedly from Venessa expressing anger that the report appeared in the media

“It just didn’t seem right. The tone and words used led us to believe that it wasn’t Venessa who sent the text messages. Why would she abandon three beautiful young children…it just didn’t make sense,” a close friend of the missing woman.

The strange text messages, as well as the fact that the Whatsapp profile used to send them had the profile picture of other women, only increased the family’s anxiety that something terrible had befallen the thirty-five-year old prompting them to intensify their search, regularly visiting Venessa’s known hangouts.

“We don’t believe these messages were sent from Venessa. We need to know the truth and if needs be we need justice and closure for us and her. Without a body of proof of live, the family cannot move forward,” added the friend.

However, one of Ravi Chetty’s sisters who did not want her name published, has come out in defence of her brother maintaining he is innocent of the charges.

“He has told family that he is innocent and we believe him. We are going through a lot and even his mother has fallen ill because of these allegations. We will stand beside him during these troubling times,” said the suspect’s sister.

Police North Cluster head of communication Captain Gay Ebrahim confirmed the suspect was arrested over the weekend and appeared in court on Tuesday.

“The station commander of Mountain Rise (Brigadier Boxer Pillay) congratulated Captain Manikum for the sterling investigation he has conducted and making the arrest possible. He went beyond the call of duty,” said Captain Ebrahim.

Chetty was remanded in custody and will make his next appearance later this month for his bail application.

Byrone Athman and Public Eye Reporters

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