The last words of Nishen Maharaj, who died minutes after his wife, Maureen - when robbers opened fire on them as he was dropping her off at work on Tuesday - were: “Tell my sons I love them. Please take care of my boys.”
Their sons are Neerav, 21, and Mikhar, 18.
Speaking on behalf of the Maharaj family at the couple’s funeral in the Tongaat Town Hall on Wednesday, Lajeeth Maharaj, Nishen’s cousin, said that the father and husband had tried to save his wife by driving away from the shoot-out.
He drove for 2km until his bakkie ploughed into a banana plantation.
“In all the duties I have been involved in for Nishen and Maureen, this is the most painful and hardest one I have ever performed,” he said.
Family and friends of the couple, who were married for 21 years, queued for hours to view the bodies and pay their respects.
“He died a hero, trying to save his wife’s life,” Maharaj said.
Jayshree Singh, Maureen’s aunt, who spoke on behalf of her family, said that although the family was in pain, they remembered all the good things about Maureen.
“We’re consumed by a great feeling of disbelief,” she said.
Comforting the couple’s sons, Jayshree said: “You were meant to have your parents just for the time they were with you.”
The Maharaj’s housekeeper of 10 years, Nora Mbuso, 32, wept throughout the service.
Mbuso said she was devastated. She had received news of the couple’s death from Maureen’s mother.
She was called up as part of the family when they paid their last respects.
“I will miss them. They were always joking, they were good people,” she said.
Vusi Masilela, 33, who worked at Nishen’s trucking company, said he was unsure about his future as he did not know whether the business would continue.
Masilela said that Nishen had always spoken to him in Zulu.
“He always made me feel at ease when we had conversations,” he said.
Police spokesman Thulani Zwane said the suspects were still at large and that the investigation continued.