Johannesburg International - 10/03/2003 - New WBO heavyweight champion, Corrie Sanders, arrives back, after defeating Wladimir Klitschko, at Johannesburg International airport, greeting his son, Dean. Pic Thys Dullaart, Story, Corrine

Pretoria - Hundreds of friends and relatives of former world heavyweight boxing champion Corrie Sanders filled the Wonderpark NG church in Pretoria North for his funeral on Monday morning.

Slides of Sanders were projected onto a wall with Josh Groban's song 'You Raise Me Up' playing in the background.

His mother Alida and brother Mike, along with other family members, were visibly emotional as proceedings started.

Chris Gericke would conduct the service.

Sanders won the World Boxing Organisation's heavyweight title in March 2003 by dropping Ukrainian Wladimir Klitsckho in the second round in Hanover, Germany. He retired five years later.

He was at the Thatch Haven Country Lodge, in Brits, on September 22 when armed robbers entered and began firing shots at random. Sanders was hit in the hand and stomach and died in the Kalafong hospital the next day.

Earlier on Monday, the three men accused of murdering Sanders appeared in the Brits Magistrate's Court.

Paida Fish, 19, Samuel Mabena, 27, and Chris Moyo, 25, each face one count of murder and three charges of robbery with aggravating circumstances. The matter was postponed to October 8 for further investigation. The men will remain in custody.

Mabena also appeared in court on Monday in connection with the murder of farmer Mauritz Oberholzer near Brits on September 5. This matter was postponed until Tuesday.

The three were arrested in the Oukasie informal settlement, near Brits, on Thursday after police received a tip-off, police spokesman Brigadier Thulani Ngubane said last week.

At the address where the men were arrested, police recovered a cellphone, vehicle key, purse, handbag, and cash believed to have been stolen during the robbery in which Sanders was shot.

“Police then went to a second address and a third suspect was arrested,” Ngubane said.

The three men are Zimbabweans. Outside court, members of the Oukasie SA National Civic Organisation protested.

“Our Constitution is failing us because criminals go free,” Michael Mhlongo said.

“They have taken our champion. We are sending our condolences to the Sanders family.”

He said the home affairs department had failed by letting foreigners into the country as they had no legal documents and therefore could not be traced if they committed crimes.

One man held up a poster which read: “They took Lucky Dube now it's Corrie Sanders. Enough is enough with illegal foreigners. No bail.”

Sapa