Captain Neville Eva, right, died at the weekend. He is pictured here with colleagues Johnny Smith and Shane Naidoo.

Durban - Tributes poured in for a decorated Durban detective who died in the early hours of Saturday morning.

Captain Neville Eva, 45, a team leader with the Durban Organised Crime Unit, caused a stir in court earlier this year when he told prosecutors during his bail hearing that he had never shot anyone in his life.

He was one of the Durban serious and violent crime unit policemen charged with running a hit squad responsible for killing criminal suspects.

Eva spent the evening before he died with his colleagues, who held a surprise farewell for him. While he still faced charges, he was medically boarded at the end of October. He died at his home in New Germany.

The police veteran of 27 years was chronically ill, having been in multiple organ failure as a result of a bacterial infection of his heart.

Suspended provincial Hawks head General Johan Booysen described Eva’s death as a tragedy.

“What can one say? His death is tragic. For me it is a real shame that he won’t be around to see all of our names cleared,” he said.

“It is tragic that because of criminal elements, he found himself in the position that we are all in.

“I met him yesterday (on Friday) and we had a long talk. Despite the adversity of his health and the false accusations that he had to endure, he was still in very high spirits. He was a pillar of strength within the group.”

Booysen added that he had worked with Eva for nearly 20 years and lauded him as a man of integrity.

“He was a straightforward and honest policeman. When we worked together at the unit we relied on his expertise and knowledge.

“He had to deal with the false accusations at such a critical point in his life. Even the horrible treatment he had to endure while being cross-examined in his bail application. The prosecutor wanted to know why he should get bail and asked what about all the guys he had put in the cells.

“The man was critically ill and this proves that. He was a good, honest cop his entire life and for him to be treated like a criminal is disgusting,” Booysen said.

A Durban Organised Crime Unit KZN Facebook page, a platform of support for the embattled unit while they face prosecution, posted a tribute to the policeman on Saturday.

“It is with profound sadness, we say farewell to a legend and our hero, Captain Neville Eva. Charlene, Ashton & Dale we wish you strength and love. All our thoughts and prayers are with you at this time,” it read.

During his career Eva notched up a number of notable successes.

He was in charge of the Lotter investigation that saw the successful prosecution of two Westville siblings for the murder of their parents.

He was involved in cracking the R31 million SBV robbery case and he nabbed a notorious rapist who terrorised the Mariannhill community in the early 1990s. - Sunday Tribune