DURBAN - LEAH, the police dog that died trying to rescue Sergeant Busisiwe Mjwara during a recovery operation in the Msunduzi River after last month’s floods, was honoured in a private funeral at Virginia Airport yesterday.
Mjwara and Leah both died in the incident on April 17. They had been searching for three flood victims.
A number of SAPS K9 officers, gathered to pay tribute to Leah yesterday.
Lindy Swales, from Brenda’s Canine Fund NPC, who held the funeral service for Leah, said her family personally understood the importance of search-and-rescue teams and K9 units.
“In 2016 our mother went missing in the floods in Durban and we spent two weeks with search and rescue. Although she was never found, we understood the importance of the search and rescue teams.
“My two sisters Tami and Kristy and I started Brenda’s Canine Fund NPC to raise funds to assist our amazing K9 Search and Rescue units with food, medicine and life-saving equipment. K9 Leah was a loyal partner and faithful friend to Sergeant Mathews Phakathi. As partners and dedicated officers, the duo saved many lives and brought closure for so many families.”
Swales added that Leah made the ultimate sacrifice by giving her life to try to save another.
“Today’s memorial, which was privately arranged, was to show respect and gratitude to our fallen K9 hero and to honour the unique relationship between her and her handler” she said.
A tribute from a fellow officer spoke of the bond between dogs and handlers.
“As a policeman, we understand the bond between dog handlers and their K9s. I understood a long time ago these are not just dogs, these are our colleagues and friends.
“Today we pay homage to Leah and to Sergeant Busisiwe for the sacrifice that they made. To Matthews, 10 years is a long time, my brother, to have Leah walking beside you, watching over you, protecting your back, just as you have been protecting and watching over hers. Now that she has gone on, I know that she is safely in the arms of God.”