Wednesday, March 18, 2015

AMAZINGLY, the South African Independent Democrats had to find out from the Saturday Star newspaper that one of its parliamentary nominees, Narentuk Jumuna, was a convicted killer.

Jumuna had been a successful businessman in his hometown of Verulam in the province of Natal for many years. He had served as an MP for the ruling National Party in the House of Delegates, the Asians-only house of the tricameral parliament. He was suspended in 1996 on suspicion of fraud by the party in the KwaZulu-Natal electoral province.

On hearing the about Jumana’s past, his party maintained that it should not now affect his right to stand in the 2009 election, especially when it was brought to the party’s attention that Jumuna was running in a comfortable fifth place in KwaZulu-Natal. When confronted by the newspaper, Jumuna first denied he was an election candidate. But when challenged on the murder of Hazel Mullen in Dublin 46 years earlier, he replied: “That was a long time ago – why the hell do I have to declare now? I don’t have to declare anything. I have been a member of parliament for a long time.”

Jumuna could not be contacted after this conversation and he switched off his phone.

Meanwhile, his embarrassed party carried out its own investigation, and once again Jumuna was in a confrontational position, this time with senior representatives of the Independent Democrats. The party was led by secretary-general Hanif Hoosen, who declared that if it was proven – which it was – that Jumuna was indeed Shan Mohangi, the convicted killer of Hazel Mullen, he would be disqualified. He added that had the party been aware of the issue in the first place, Jumuna would not have been selected as a candidate.

This action was made more awkward because the election rules stated that the nomination papers were completed the previous day and that a registered candidate could not be removed either by the party or the people. However, Jumuna was eventually forced to resign his nomination.

So let us roll back the years to Harcourt Street, Dublin in 1963, where Jumuna was then known by his real name of Shan Mohangi, a South African of Indian descent. He was a 22-year-old student at the Royal College of Surgeons, while working as a part-time chef in the Green Tureen restaurant, where he also had his living quarters on the second floor at 95 Harcourt Street.

Just a few things we have to remember here: at the time, the death penalty had not yet been abolished in Ireland and the crime and conviction of murder resulted in a compulsory death sentence, and those who committed such a crime were automatically sentenced to death. Mohangi would, or should, have been aware of this.

Hazel Mullen was a 14-year-old assistant in Brown’s chemist shop on St Stephen’s Green. Apparently, they met when Mohangi visited the chemist shop some time during August in 1962 to purchase medication. How they became an item is not clear, but they did, to such an extent that Mohangi was soon visiting the Mullen home in Shankhill, where Hazel lived with her widowed mother and seven siblings, of which she was the fourth born.

Hazel’s father had passed away the previous year and her mother took to her daughter’s boyfriend because of his good manners and courtesy. It would have to be said that at this time Mohangi’s intentions to the pretty young Dubliner were honourable, and his intention was to make her his bride. Being a sensible woman, Mrs Mullen spoke politely as she explained how she felt her daughter was too young for such a long-term commitment and she would prefer to see her enjoy herself and meet other boys before settling down to the duties of wedded life. This outlook clashed with the desires of Mohangi, in whose culture marriage at an early age was quiet normal.

Mohangi was Hazel’s first boyfriend and it was only a matter of weeks from that first meeting that they were madly in love. She would not have been aware of the cultural differences that existed between her and the South African medical student.

During his trial, it became clear that Mohangi had been fuelled by rage at what he believed was an unforgivable sexual betrayal on her part. But perhaps his jealously sprang from her mother’s intervention or Hazel’s own failure to be the person he expected her to be. It was this misplaced idealisation of such standards that would cost Hazel her life in the most atrocious murder of that particular period in Ireland.

Hazel soon learned that Mohangi had an unpleasant side to him, which was mainly his possessiveness. At times it upset her and on other occasions it frightened her, as it could and would flare into outbursts of violence.

On the first occasion, he slapped her face when she told him he was not the first man she had kissed. On another occasion, he threw a pot of hot rice at her, burning her back to the extent that she required hospital treatment.

Neither did he inform Hazel that shortly after he had first arrived in Ireland in 1961 he had met and become engaged to a nurse. This was also a tempestuous relationship, which ended when the nurse broke off the affair in July 1962 and actually left Dublin. This was just prior to Mohangi meeting Hazel, who was just short of her 15th birthday.

For whatever reason, Hazel took a short break from the relationship. At this time, Mohangi was struggling to make ends meet and finding it difficult to live on the allowance his father was sending him. His landlord, Cecil Frew, organised a part-time position in the Green Tureen, the restaurant over which he lived in his one-room apartment. Very few people except friends and workmates in either Dublin or Ireland would have known or heard of Hazel Mullen or Shan Mohangi prior to August 1963. Soon all that would change.

By now, Hazel had resumed her relationship with Mohangi. She went to work on the morning of 17 August as usual; this was her half day and she would finish work at 12.30pm. It would also be the last time her family or anyone other than Shan Mohangi would see her. On leaving work, she travelled the short journey to Harcourt Street, where she went to Mohangi’s flat. At his trial, Mohangi stated that Hazel asked if he could show her around, to which he agreed. When they reached the basement, he stated: “She told me she had something to do with someone else; she did not mention the person’s name, but did say it was sex. I don’t know what happened to me at this time, I just fell into a rage. I put my hands around her neck and before I knew what was happening, it was the end. I did not intend killing Hazel. The moment I learned she was unfaithful to me, I lost my head and did something rash, which I am regretting now.”

On the night of 17 August, Hazel’s mother and family were worried about her, and her brother made his way into the city and to the Green Tureen. There, he spoke with Mohangi, who was at work and denied seeing Hazel that day. However, he did say he had spoken to her on the phone and she had said she was going shopping. The two men returned to Shankhill and reported her missing to the gardaí.

Mohangi stayed at the Mullen’s house that night and slept in Hazel’s room.

Next day, the gardaí began searching for the missing girl. Two officers visited the Green Tureen. During the search, they visited the basement, which was strewn with rubbish but otherwise appeared empty. However, the day before, a couple walking past the restaurant noticed smoke coming from the basement. An African man answered and told them everything was alright, but his demeanour was strange and they called the fire brigade, which dispatched three fire tenders to the reported blaze.

The firemen found Mohangi naked to the waist and sweating profusely. He explained to them there had been a minor fire, which he had put out. The firemen looked around to ensure that the blaze had been extinguished and then left.

On Sunday, the landlord, Cecil Frew, noticed a bad odour coming from the drains and cleaned them out. His efforts failed to get rid of the sickly stench. His mind turned to the behaviour of Mohangi, so he decided to have a talk with him. This chat was strained, and eventually the South African admitted to killing Hazel.

Frew then went to Harcourt Street Garda Station and informed gardaí of the situation. When they arrived back at the Green Tureen, Mohangi’s door was locked. Sergeant James Connell stated he could smell gas and hear it running. They burst in the door and turned off two gas jets, one on a fire and the other on a cooker. Mohangi had taken tablets and tried to gas himself. He was taken to hospital and recovered within a few days.

Meanwhile, a search of the Green Tureen discovered 17 dismembered parts of Hazel Mullen’s remains as well as a meat cleaver and knives from the restaurant kitchen. Mohangi had attempted to boil her head, and her internal organs were missing. Some were found behind cupboards in his room.

Mohangi’s trial began on 10 February and 16 days later he was found guilty of murder and sentenced to death, the last time this sentenced would be passed on a member of the public in an Irish court (other than the shooting of Garda Michael Reynolds in 1975, for which Noel and Marie Murray were sentenced to death, which was later commuted to life in prison).

Mohangi immediately appealed his conviction. This trial was heard in January 1965, when he was found guilty of manslaughter and sentenced to seven years’ imprisonment. He served less than four years and was then deported back to South Africa.

In an interview with RTÉ in the 1994 series Thou Shalt Not Kill, Mohangi said: “If I had one wish, it would be to bring Hazel Mullen back and undo what was done. But that is not possible.”

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By Frank White
Contact Newsdesk: +353 59 9170100

More Times Past

Ireland home and away in WWI (part 4)

Ireland home and away in WWI (part 3)

Ireland home and away in World War I (part 2)