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Shane Naidoo feels gutted and betrayed. The 33-year-old Durban policeman is one of the 18 members of the Cato Manor organised crime unit arrested this week.
They were charged with murder after a crack police unit swooped on them in a Hollywood-style raid.
Yesterday Naidoo and his family struggled to come to terms with the death of his younger brother, Leon, a 27-year-old IT specialist who died of a heart attack on Wednesday on hearing that Shane had been arrested.
The Naidoo family lost another son, Trevor, a policeman who died in the line of duty in 2008.
On Friday a distraught Shane Naidoo was taken out of court, handcuffed, in leg irons and guarded by six heavily armed policemen to a funeral parlour in Phoenix where he bid farewell to Leon.
Leon returned from a course to his home in Phoenix on Wednesday when he got word of Shane’s arrest. He was overwhelmed and said he had to go and lie down because he had chest pains.
Shortly afterwards he had a heart attack.
He was taken to the Mahatma Gandhi Hospital where he had a second heart attack.
He was confirmed dead a short while later.
Shane's surviving brother, Shaun, told the Tribune yesterday how the family had struggled to tell the eldest brother, who was behind bars at the time. A commander from his unit broke the news to him.
Behind bars, Shane struggled to stay composed.
Shaun said: “He felt completely shattered because he was in prison and powerless to do anything.
“He was in total disbelief and felt so hopeless.
“My brother said he knew he could do nothing and the authorities wouldn’t let him out so he just retreated quietly to his cell,” Shaun said.
After two days shuffling between holding cells and court, he was briefly released to say goodbye to Leon.
When he was allowed to see Leon's body, Shaun said Shane had battled to keep it together.
“He refused to break down in front of strangers (the six armed policemen).”
Looking at Leon was unbearable, he said.
“Shane said it was heart-wrenching to say goodbye like that. He had to leave quickly.”
Naidoo was escorted back to court and later that day was granted bail along with his colleagues. He raced to the crematorium, but wasn't able to perform the last rites according to Hindu custom.
The charges against Naidoo and his colleagues relate to claims that they operated a “hit squad”. Prosecutors said in court this week the men collectively faced 71 charges, included 14 of murder, and housebreaking, illegal possession of ammunition, possession of unlicensed firearms, defeating the ends of justice, assault, theft and malicious damage to property. They were each granted bail of R5 000.
The matter will resume in court on August 24 where a trial date will be set.
Yesterday Durban attorney Carl van der Merwe vowed to get his clients off the hook.
“We will fight this tooth and nail until these guys are vindicated of all the charges against them,” he said.
The arrest of Naidoo and his colleagues at their homes by heavily armed special unit policemen has sparked outrage and scores of supporters, including sacked national police commissioner Bheki Cele, crammed into court.
Outside the court supporters waved placards.
Manuela Rodrigues, a friend of most of the affected policemen, summed up the sentiment of the friends and families.
She said they were dedicated crime fighters who put their lives on the line and didn’t deserve to be treated the way they were.
“They were paraded in front of TV cameras and photographers as common criminals. It was a ploy to lower their morale.”