Epileptic woman found dead in Patentia latrine

After a hard day’s work  of cutting cane, Patentia   West Demerara resident Brigmohan Surujlall returned home to find his wife dead in their pit latrine on Thursday evening.

Bassantie Dhaniram

Bassantie Dhaniram, 52, was discovered dead at about 6.30pm and Surujlall, 36, who had reportedly hit the woman to her head with a hammer several months ago, was arrested for questioning about the discovery. He was later released.

Commander of Police ‘D’ Division, Assistant Commissioner Balram Persaud said the woman is reported to be an epileptic and this may have caused her to fall into the pit, hitting her head in the process. There is a gash, Persaud said, on the woman’s forehead but “it is consistent with a fall.” “She was a very big person and she was epileptic and from investigations so far she may have fell and hit her head but we are investigating and awaiting the result of the post mortem,” he said.

On May 27, police said yesterday, Dhaniram had reported at Wales Police Station that her husband had assaulted her to the head with a hammer during an argument at their home earlier that day. As a result, Surujlall was arrested and his wife was given a medical form and advised to seek medical attention at the West Demerara Regional Hospital (WDRH). However, she never did so.

Two days later, at about 11am, neighbours, who had not seen Dhaniram for some time, entered her home and found her lying on a mattress on the floor with a wound to her head that was infested with maggots. They later took her to the WDRH and the police was informed. The police, according to the release, then went to the WDRH and interviewed Dhaniram who changed her story and gave a statement in writing that her husband had not assaulted her, but that she had fallen and struck her head during the argument. Her husband was subsequently released.

Since the report of alleged assault by her husband, Dhaniram had not made any other report to the police. Her body is currently at the WDRH awaiting a post-mortem examination, which is expected to be conducted on Monday.

“…we does always
make up back”

Meanwhile, at the couple’s home, Surujlall told Stabroek News yesterday that she was the reason he worked hard for a living. The widower said that over the last decade or so he and his wife had developed a routine where she would rise before 4am to cook his lunch.

On Thursday morning things were no different and he expected to return to their modest home to find his spouse after his grueling hours at work. “Ah lef’ she deh and ah smile to meh self cause ah know she woulda deh deh when I come home,” Surujlall said.

Six months ago, Surujlall explained, he and his wife were forced to move from the house they had been renting; they could no longer afford it. He gestured to the one room shack which he had erected on the embankment of a sluice located in the New Housing Scheme at Patentia.

To the side of the small one room shelter which Surujlall and his wife had shared a crooked structure serves as the bathing area and latrine.

Between sobs, he said when he returned home from work on Thursday  the door to their dwelling place was open. “When meh see de door open and no light na been on meh seh like this gyal [Dhaniram] deh somewhere ah drink rum,” Surujlall said.

Nevertheless, as was his habit, the man said he started to search for his wife. A short time later, he discovered Dhaniram in the latrine. “Ow she been like this in deh,” Surujlall said making sweeping motions with his hands. “And me tek she out from there and me wash she off and put on a nightie and underwear pon she but she de done gone, she de done dead but me seh to me self some time she still living and me could save she.”

Police, Surujlall said, took him with them on Thursday evening and told him that he was wanted for assaulting his wife. The man stressed that he never did anything to the woman and he was not home all of that day. “Me and she na fight long long now and we used to fight because she does drink nuff rum,” the man said. “It na matter how much we fight though we does always mek up back.”

Surujlall further told this newspaper that although his wife was several years older, they got on well. The couple had no children.

Meanwhile, the man’s mother, Juliet, told this newspaper that her daughter-in-law’s relatives living locally were yet to be informed of the woman’s death. “She got a sister living at Soesdyke but we been trying to contact she and we can’t find she,” Juliet said. “And we call she next sister that live in the states (US) but she seh that she na interested and she na coming.”

The woman further noted that she and her son cannot afford Dhaniram’s funeral. On Monday, she said, Surujlall has been advised to visit the Ministry of Human Services to seek assistance.

Dhaniram, the woman alleged, and her son used to be at odds over the woman’s drinking habit. Her daughter-in-law, according to Juliet, also suffered from “fits.”

“Is long now he and she na fight,” Juliet told this newspaper.

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