‘Saluting a fallen soldier’Comment on this story
Durban - Friends of a former Phoenix gangster paid “tribute” to him at his funeral by firing live rounds of ammunition in the air and spinning car tyres.
A video clip showing the send-off at Brenden Pillay’s funeral last week has gone viral.
The footage, posted on the Phoenix Community Crime Watch Facebook page, has been shared by internet users.
The video shows a group of men forming a “guard of honour” around Pillay’s white hearse as more than a dozen rounds of live ammunition are fired into the air.
The men are said to be gangsters.
According to Pillay’s mother, Devi, the guard of honour and the shooting was a tribute to Pillay from friends. They were “saluting a fallen soldier” at his funeral, she said. She denied it had anything to do with gangsterism.
Her son had changed his life before his death, she said.
She said his friends had closed off two ends of Canehaven Drive in Phoenix during their guard of honour, and no one was hurt.
“That was the way his friends sent him off and I am grateful to them for that. He was no longer involved in that lifestyle but he still had friends who wanted to send him off in their way,” she said.
However, many in the community are outraged that live rounds were fired in a suburban street so close to family homes.
They were too afraid to speak.
The footage starts with a souped-up green Ford Escort spinning its tyres, emitting plumes of white smoke to the encouragement of a crowd of people.
A white hearse, with its side wing doors open revealing Pillay’s white and gold trimmed coffin, is parked on the street as people mill around. The roar of the crowd grows as a man in a black suit fires several rounds of ammunition into the air.
In the background mourners are heard cursing and whistling. Several people are seen recording the event on their cellphones.
A battered Toyota Conquest can also be seen spinning its tyres.
A manager at the funeral home that buried Pillay said it was the first time he had known of such a practice to take place in Phoenix.
The man, who did not want to be named, said despite the gunfire he never felt in danger.
But the footage has elicited anger from the local community who took to the Phoenix Community Crime Watch Facebook to vent. “This is such hardcore evidence of the lack of morality and compassion in our Indian community,” Liz Pillay wrote.
Warren Naidoo posted: “I don’t care what you fake people think. We lost a brother in the harshest way and laid him to rest in the way he would have wanted.”
Pillay was shot in the head while in the driver’s seat of his car on July 5. The murder is believed to be over a long-standing feud with another family.
Police had not responded to questions from the Daily News by the time of publication.