Constable Johan Slabbert, who was wounded in a shootout with robbers on the West Rand, has died.

Slabbert died just after 6pm on Thursday night in the presence of his wife and his parents, who had kept vigil by his bedside in Milpark Hospital for the past five days.

Slabbert, 22, and his partner, Inspector Bennie Kganyago, 38, had come under fire when they responded to a robbery-in-progress call at the Princess Crossing shopping centre in Roodepoort on Sunday.

The shooting took place after six armed men robbed a Pick 'n Pay branch in the shopping centre. While four other robbers fled, two decided to rob a cellphone shop - but they were startled by Slabbert and Kganyago, and a shootout ensued.

Slabbert was shot in the cheek, with the bullet exiting at the top of his spine, while his partner sustained a flesh wound to the chin.

Slabbert's devastated wife of four months, Marieka, said on Thursday night that watching helplessly as her beloved husband died had been the saddest experience of her life.

"He was struggling to breathe. He looked sad. I cried and held his hands. I knew he was dying," Marieka said.

Slabbert's distraught parents hugged each other and held Marieka's hands as they left the trauma ward where their son had been admitted.

The pain became unbearable for Marieka as she walked out of the ward. She turned and looked back at the door, tears streaming down her face.

His father, Honeydew police officer Superintendent Johan Slabbert, clutched a pair of teddy bears bought for his son by his daughter, Erica, under his arms.

Slabbert senior said he and his wife Engela had gone home to change and bathe when a hysterical Marieka phoned and asked them to rush back.

"She told us that it seemed as if he was fading out of his life. We rushed back. I think he was waiting for us to come. He died a few minutes after we arrived."

Slabbert senior said the criminals who had killed his son deserved to go to jail.

"People have no respect for life. They don't respect the laws of this country and are willing to kill a policeman for greed. A policeman is an individual representing the government," Slabbert said, anger showing through his grief.