Doctor Nalini Desai was a medical doctor of Indian Origin. She was found brutally murdered in her house in Northmead, Lusaka on 27th July, 2007.
She was 48 years old. She was not married, had no children and was staying alone.
A medical report seen by the Watchdog gives cause of death as suffocation and strangulation of the neck.
More than three years on, her killers or killer is not known. No one has ever been arrested or questioned in connection to the murder. The police say the docket is still open.
But a hot fight over her estate (property) has erupted.
When Dr. Desai died, it is reported that no next of kin came forward. So, Jayesh Shah, a friend of Dr. Desai was appointed administrator by the High Court of Zambia. He is based in Zimbabwe.
The Watchdog is not yet sure of the value of the murdered doctor’s estate. But what is clear is that she was running a private clinic called ‘Get Well Clinic’ along Cha Cha Cha road in Lusaka. She had a house in Northmead and vehicles, gold jewelries and cash in bank accounts.
One person who says she is the sister to the late doctor says the value of the estate could be more than $US 50 million (Dollars).
Shah could not state the value of the Estate but said “all her properties were sold and creditors who had claimed on the estate with documentary evidence were paid almost 2/3rd of their claims (only those claims which we were convinced were genuine claims and supported by documentary evidence were paid whilst others were rejected by us).”
He explained that “Since none of the family members came for the funeral and even refused to accept the body of the late which the Lusaka Hindu Association had offered to send to India – the then executive committee of the Lusaka Hindu Association requested me to wind up all the affairs of the Late Dr. Desai which I did in consultation of a 5 member team only after the requisite approval of the high Court of Zambia.”
He said he knew the late Dr. Desai since 1986 and that he lived in Lusaka since 1984 and moved to Harare in 1994.
“I never worked with Dr. Desai. I am a businessman and not a Doctor. Whenever I used to visit Lusaka I have stayed at the house,” he said.
He wondered why it took three years for the people purporting to be sisters of the late to surface.
But Bharati Shivakumar Kanaiya who says she is the elder sister of the murdered doctor accuses Shah of misleading the High Court when he was appointed administrator.
She told the Watchdog that she has two other sisters and that when they heard that their sister in Lusaka had died, they dispatched the youngest to Lusaka but she was chased and was not allowed to enter the house of her sister.
“On hearing the news of the brutal murder, after passing through all the legal and visa procedures, one of my younger sisters had been to Lusaka. But when she cane there Mr. Jayesh Shah did not allow her to enter the house of the deceased at Northmead in Lusaka and compelled her to leave Lusaka. All the proofs about her arrival in Lusaka are with the High Commission of India too. Further you or anybody should not expect all the relatives or the legal heirs from India to attend the funeral which was conducted within 2-3 days”, she explained.
“Mr. Jayesh Shah of Gift Investments of Harare in Zimbabwe is not related to the deceased or to us. He has falsely claimed in the High Court of Zambia and elsewhere stating that there are no Legal claimants to the deceased, to obtain the said order to appoint himself as the executor for the properties of the deceased. He has misguided the High court and has misrepresented the matter in the High Court of Zambia,” says Kanaiya.
She revealed that Mr. Jayesh Shah has her mobile number and that he has called her and had sent her a text message two days earlier (Friday October 8, 2010).
She further accused Shah of evading the Indian High Commission in Lusaka.
“Since last three years we are in contact with The High Commission of India in Lusaka and on our requests the High Commission of India in Lusaka had called Mr. Jayesh Shah to the office in November 2007 and he told the officers that his lawyers will reply the queries, which he and his lawyers with malafide intentions to grab the properties of the deceased evaded for last thirty four months and on 7-10-2010 the High Commission of India in Lusaka has informed us that Mr. Jayesh Shah has communicated to them that he has wounded up” she explained.
The sisters of the deceased (All above 50 years old) explained that they did not know the laws of Zambia and had to rely on the advice of the Indian High Commission in Zambia. They also said that it would have been very expensive for them to travel to Zambia to start legal proceedings. But according to documents seen by the Watchdog, the matter has been referred to the Legal Resources Foundation.
A letter from the Indian High Commission in Lusaka signed by Rajinder Singh, Second Secretary reads states that “the High Commission has approached the Zambian authorities a number of times and is in touch with them in this case The last reply from the Zambian Ministry of Foreign Affairs received by us in May, 2009 saying:
“The esteemed High Commission of India may wish to know that the murder of Dr. Nalini Desai was discovered and reported to Northmead Police by Mr. Probodhkuma Patel Rameshbhoi on 27th July, 2007 at 1145 hrs. To this effect, the police immediately commenced investigations but, have to date, not found any clue about the murderers of the subject. However, the docket for the case remains open”
We have reminded them again and again but there has been no further information in regard to the ongoing investigation.
“Case continues to be under investigation of the local authorities. Outcome of the case would be intimated to you on receipt of this information from the local authorities.”
The Indian Higfh Commision has also advised the sisters to hire a lawyer as fast as they can.
The sisters of the late Doctor are in fact accusing Shah of being responsible for murder.
But Shah is unimpressed with all this. He doubts the genuineness of the people claiming to be legal heirs of the estate.
“Since the late had no relatives in Zambia I was requested by the Lusaka Hindu Association to perform all the last rituals and now it’s hard to believe and accept to hear that I am the MURDERER.
“These chaps are on a fishing expedition and just trying their luck and want to extort money,” he said.
He wondered why the Indian based relatives of Dr. Desai are accusing him of murder but on one hand are asking him for a compromise on the property.