Family yearns for closure

Rubbing shoulders with local celebrities and sports stars to acquiring his dream job and purchasing a new car, Leo Govender was living his best life – until he disappeared on February 9.

Leo Govender’s siblings, Wayne and Revaska, are hoping for closure. Picture: Tumi Pakkies/Independent Newspapers

Published Feb 24, 2024

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Rubbing shoulders with local celebrities and sports stars to acquiring his dream job and purchasing a new car, Leo Govender was living his best life – until he disappeared on February 9.

His family became worried after he left their Cowies Hill, Pinetown home in an e-hailing vehicle and was not heard from again.

They began seeking help on social media - circulating missing persons posters and combing areas where he was believed to have been last seen to no avail.

Five days after his disappearance, on February 14, the family were informed that he had been killed after allegedly being hit by a car in the Umbilo area. Govender’s body was taken to the Phoenix Mortuary.

Constable Thenjiswa Ngcobo, a provincial police spokesperson, said Umbilo police were investigating a case of culpable homicide.

“A body of an unknown man was found on the corner of Sydney Road and Mutual Lane on February 9. He was later identified as a person that was reported missing at Pinetown.”

According to the post mortem report, Govender’s cause of death was ‘blunt force trauma’.

Wayne Govender, his older brother, said they were baffled as to how he ended up in the Umbilo area.

“It is not somewhere my brother would even go. It doesn’t make sense to us.”

Revaska Govender, his younger sister, said on the morning of February 9, Govender had woken up in his usual jovial mood.

“He was always happy, but in the week of his disappearance, he had received some great news that he had got his dream job of working for a well-known skincare and beauty brand. He was going to work a year in South Africa and then a year in London. In addition, he informed us that he had purchased a new car. We were excited and so happy for him,” she said.

Revaska said Govender left home at about 11am.

“He said that he was going to the Road Accident Fund (RAF) offices that morning to sort out some paperwork regarding an accident with his previous vehicle, but before jumping into the vehicle, he showed me a picture of a car on his phone and smiled.

“I believe he was going to pick up his new car on that day and surprise us. He loved to surprise us,” she said.

Wayne, a well-known fashion designer, said the family became worried when he didn’t arrive home that evening.

“At the time, I was in Johannesburg and my mum had called to say Leo had not come home, as he would usually be home between 7:30 and 8pm. He usually went to a step-class at the gym in the evening.

“I tried to call him several times, but his number just rang, and our WhatsApp messages were not delivered. The next day, there was still no word from him, so we started reaching out to his friends, and opened a missing persons case at the police station,” he said.

Revaska said they began following up on leads about where Leo could have been.

“We searched the streets of Durban trying to find some information that could help us find our brother. I had managed to get into his laptop and saw that he had a successful drop off in West Street. We later found that he went to eat at one of his favourite eateries and a club in the Durban Central area, both places he frequently visited. Then we hit a dead-end,” she said.

Wayne said when they were informed that he had been knocked, a lot of questions were raised.

“We want to know how he ended up in that area, how did he travel there? Was he crossing the road when he was knocked? Who was he with? There are so many unanswered questions, and we need some form of closure, especially for our mother, who has not been well since his passing.

“Leo was not only the light in so many people’s lives, but the light of our home. When our dad passed away a few years ago, due to Covid-19, he made sure that everything was taken care of at home.

“We grew up in a home filled with love and happiness, and we feel robbed of it now. We feel that while he would want us to be happy and celebrate his life, we need to fill in the missing pieces of how he passed away so we can have some closure and justice,” he said.

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