Police officers carry the coffin of Warrant Officer Sfundo Erasmus Musa, who was killed during a shootout with cash in transit criminals. Picture: Sibusiso Ndlovu / African News Agency / ANA
Port Shepstone - The Special Task Force is the best of the best within the SAPS and yesterday high-ranking officers joined police Minister Bheki Cele in paying tribute to a member who died on duty.

Warrant Officer Sfundo Erasmus Musa, 39, was laid to rest at his family home in Murchison, Port Shepstone.

He was one of two policemen killed when they were ambushed by a group of cash-in-transit (CIT) robbers in Nongoma last Friday.

The robbers attacked and blew up the CIT vehicle shortly after it had picked up cash from a petrol station in the town.

Police had been tipped off about the incident and managed to get to the scene within minutes.

However, members of the heavily armed gang were waiting for them and in the ensuing gun battle, Musa and a colleague from the Crime Intelligence Unit, Lieutenant-Colonel Carl van der Vyver, 51, were killed. A third policeman was shot and is recuperating in hospital.

Cele, who attended the funeral, said the incident had also claimed the lives of seven members of the CIT gang.

One suspect was arrested and taken to hospital. He is expected to appear in court soon. Two others are believed to have escaped.

Cele said he wanted them arrested within the next 24 hours.

The police minister also called on the police to be decisive when under attack because criminals don’t carry “broom sticks and feather dusters” during robberies.

“I am not calling for police brutality. I am not also calling for police to be rogue. But I am saying that I do not want to have to come and pick you up dead. It is not my job to come and bury you every day. Police are human beings too,” said Cele.

A memorial service was held at Durban Christian Centre on the Bluff on Thursday for Musa.

It was attended by the acting provincial commissioner, General Dumezweni Chiliza.

He had accompanied Cele to the scene after the shooting.

He said: “They opened fire on our members. Lieutenant-Colonel Vyver became the first victim followed by Warrant Officer Musa,” Chiliza said.

Chiliza claimed that the seventh robber to die had taken his own life after being cornered by police.

Former Hawks boss Major-General Johan Booysen was also present at the memorial service.

Nurse Mdletshe, the provincial secretary of the South African Police Union, said Musa was exemplary in the police force.

A relative, Sizwe Musa, said his cousin was often away on duty but when he was home, he brought with him an element of joy.

“He is going to be missed dearly. He was a dedicated man with lots of gusto and bravery,” he said.

Vyver was buried at a private funeral on Wednesday.