North West - The murder of former world boxing champion Corrie “the Sniper” Sanders, who died protecting his daughter, has enraged many South Africans.
Sanders, 46, was shot on Saturday while shielding his daughter from four assailants who had stormed in on a family celebration at a restaurant in Brits in the North West.
He died on Sunday at the Kafalong hospital.
His murder made news across the world
and tributes poured in for the hero who famously floored Ukrainian Wladimir Klitschko in 2003 to take the heavyweight title from him.
Last week, crime statistics showed that nationally murder was on the decline. In Brits, however, police reported an increase – from 26 last year to 37 this year.
The owner of the venue, Johan de Jaeger, confirmed that crime was increasing in the town.
Two weeks ago thieves had broken into his restaurant and stolen a TV set. “But this is the first time there has been a shooting. I feel terrible and send my condolences to the family.”
Sanders had been at his nephew Michael’s 21st birthday party at the Thatch Haven Restaurant when four armed men stormed, shooting at people and robbing them.
The former boxing champion was at the entrance to the function venue, making his way to the buffet, when the shooting started.
A volley of shots was fired in seconds, and people dropped to the floor.
Sanders told his daughter Marinic, 15, to get down and play dead, according to eyewitnesses. He then dropped down and covered her.
The four robbers demanded valuables from the guests and continued shooting. They raced out at the sound of a car alarm going off and it was then that people saw Sanders had been shot in the arm and abdomen.
His brother Michael said Sanders was covering his daughter when shot.
Sanders’s ex-wife, Sunette, speaking on EWN news onSunday, said Sanders had dived to protect their daughter and described him as a hero.
Paramedics and police arrived within minutes of the attack and Sanders was taken to the Kalafong hospital where he was immediately taken in to surgery. He died eight hours later.
His brother Michael said on Sunday his family were devastated and battling to come to terms with their loss. Their mother Alida, also at the party, saw her son being shot.
“Marinic and his son, Dean, 12, are battling, they will never see their dad again,” said Michael.
By Sunday afternoon three condolence pages had been opened on Facebook and hundreds of people had posted on Shout SA’s Facebook page. Many expressed their anger and outrage at the high crime, specifically violent crime rate.
Sanders’s girlfriend, Elsabe Gouws, described him as an honest, kind and reliable man. He was speaking to her minutes before the shooting – “he was talking about getting back into the ring.”
Gouws and Sanders had been seeing each other for two years.
Gavin Koppel, chairman of anti-crime movement Shout SA, said Sanders was a remarkable man.
A few weeks ago he had taken part in a Shout SA Crime Line golf day. He was passionate about the game and played whenever he could.
“Shout SA was a cause he wanted to support. He wanted a cessation to the crime. He said crime was killing and hurting all South Africans.”
Koppel said the high number of murders in the country was tragic.
Kallie Kriel, of Afriforum, who was also at Thatch Haven, said his son CM and his friends had come running into the restaurant saying bullets had flown over their heads.
He rushed to where the Sanders function was being held and saw Sanders on the floor.
“We have to fight this crime situation,” he said, referring to the latest murder statistics, noting that each of the 15 600 killed last year had families.
The boxing Klitschko brothers, Wladimir and Vitali, said in a statement on the world boxing news website they were shocked at his death.
Sanders defeated Wladimir and rocked Vitali in bouts over 10 years ago.
“We were shocked to learn of the sudden death of Corrie Sanders and we want to express our sincere condolences to his family. We will remember Corrie as a great person both inside and outside the ring.
“He was a great fighter with a big heart who always positively represented the sport of boxing,” the Klitschkos said.
Sports stars and celebrities shared their grief on Twitter:
* Proteas’ Test captain Graeme Smith: “Our thoughts with Corrie Sanders’ friends and family! RIP Corrie.”
* Springbok flyhalf Morné Steyn: “All the best for Corrie Sanders’ family and friends. We lost one of SA’s legends. God Bless!”
* Proteas’ ODI and T20 captain AB de Villiers: “Shocking news about Corrie Sanders’ death, gonna miss you Corras.”
* Former Springbok captain John Smit: “Just woke up to news of Corrie Sanders having been murdered last night, what another senseless waste of life in SA.”
* Cobras coach Paul Adams: “What terrible news to wake up to. South African legend, Corrie Sanders, rest in peace my friend. My prayers and thoughts are with his family.”
* Singer Kurt Darren: “ I am heartbroken, my golf partner and a very good man with a huge heart, Corrie Sanders went to heaven this morning. Rest in peace, Corra.”
* Former Springbok Joost van der Westhuizen: “Absolutely shocked to hear about Corrie Sanders. My condolences to his family.”