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Durban - A 20-year-old aspirant engineer’s life was cut short when he was gunned down on Monday evening as his parents looked on. He was the family’s only child.

Sachin Soni, a third-year engineering student at Coastal College, was killed when he tried to fight off intruders attempting to rob his parents in their Greenwood Park home.

He was shot five times.

Kiren Gokar-Soni, a relative, said on Tuesday that the family had been left in “great shock” and Sachin’s parents, Ash and Madhu Soni, were struggling to come to terms with the death.

“His parents are both retired and he lived with them… He was their pillar of strength. This is a horrific loss,” he said.

“His father was in the lounge talking on the phone when two guys wearing balaclavas barged in through the garage.

“He took a broom to try to fend them off. His mom then pressed the panic button and Sachin ran down to help his father and that’s when they fired at him.”

Gokar-Soni described his cousin as a “gentle” person who was “respectful and respected by everyone”.

“He is quite a big-sized guy and when he came down the stairs and walked in on those guys they were probably intimidated and shot him,” he said.

Sachin was cremated at the Clare Estate crematorium on Tuesday afternoon.

A eulogy from his parents, delivered by a relative, read: “The hope of our future is dimmed. We will now tread the winding paths of this fearful world like a shadow of ourselves, distracted sojourners whose dreams have been stolen by a force too mysterious and evil to understand.”

A bag with balaclavas and spent cartridges was found in the yard. Gokar-Soni said all the family was hoping for was that the robbers would be arrested and that justice would prevail.

Police spokesman Thulani Zwane said the police were investigating a case of murder and attempted house robbery.

No arrests had been made.

The intruders were said to have demanded cash, firearms, cellphones and jewellery, but fled without taking anything.

Greenwood Park community policing forum chairman Robin Candy said there had been a “sudden” rise in house break-ins in the area in recent weeks after a “quiet few months”.

He said there had been 104 house robberies in the suburb last year, but commended the police on their efforts. - The Mercury