Durban - A former Cato Manor organised crime unit member, who was one of those accused of being part of a hit squad, died of a heart attack on Wednesday – just four days shy of his 41st birthday.
Captain Vincent Auerbach, who was stationed at the Wentworth Magistrate’s Court, died soon after he called his close friend Bruce McInnes to complain of severe chest pains.
By the time McInnes, also a former Cato Manor officer, arrived at his Bluff home, Auerbach had stopped breathing and paramedics could not resuscitate him.
He is the second officer implicated in the alleged death squad who has died in the past three months.
Captain Neville Eva, 45, who had a bacterial infection in his heart, died in November. Eva died a day after his colleagues held a farewell for him as he had retired from the police service.
Auerbach, with McInnes, Hawks KZN head Major-General Johan Booysen and several others, had been charged with about 100 counts relating to the alleged “death squad” killings of the now-disbanded unit. The State alleges they were part of a syndicate which carried out several killings of alleged criminal suspects.
Auerbach was transferred from the unit three years ago to the Wentworth court, where he was tasked with ensuring that dockets were ready for trial. He was suspended after his arrest in April for the death squad allegations.
Speaking from Auerbach’s home, McInnes said his friend and colleague had been “extremely fit”, but under a lot of stress because of the case.
“He went to the doctor on Tuesday and he was told that he was fit for his age. He trained every day and we used to swim together, so it can only be stress. It was the stress of this case that was worrying him.”
He added that Auerbach had wanted to go back to work, but was turned away. “He was a fantastic officer who just wanted to do his job”
A Durban organised crime unit Facebook page, a platform of support for the officers facing prosecution, posted a tribute to Auerbach.
The message read: “Vince, gone but never forgotten.” - The Mercury