A murdered police officer was hailed “a hero who died with his boots on” during his memorial service.
It was an emotional day yesterday as friends, family and colleagues of slain Constable Mthetho Sandla gathered at the St Matthew’s Church in Delft to remember the fallen officer.
Constable Sandla, 35, was gunned down in the early hours of last Monday morning when he and a partner responded to a robbery at a petrol station along Delft Main Road.
Yesterday’s service began with a wreath-laying ceremony at the Delft Police Station where a plaque with his name was erected.
Delft’s Station Commander Colonel Luyanda Damoyi described Sandla as a disciplined and committed member.
“As a station we have lost a hero, I want to say to the family your pain is our pain and we are crying with you,” he says.
“Mthetho never disappointed or embarrassed your family, he was a good example and we are very proud of him.
“We must celebrate his life by making sure we move on by serving the community of Delft.
“He passed on with his boots on – not inside a shebeen,” he added.
Family members described the father of three as a man who always wanted to serve his community.
Relative Noluthando Sandla says: “When he first arrived at our home in 2003, he worked as a guard at our spaza shop.
“One day there was a robbery, one of the people had a real gun and a fake one, and he fought them off, which showed his commitment to being an officer,” she says.
Police are yet to make an arrest in the matter but Western Cape Police Commissioner, General Khombinkosi Jula, promised officers would relentlessly pursue the killers.
“In the four months I have been in this province, I have experienced three serious attacks on officers, this includes Sandla,” he told congregants.
“The death of Constable Sandla speaks to how dangerous communities have become. There are areas where you can’t distinguish the criminals from communities but it is our jobs as police to do so.”