Warrant Officer Hemant Raghoonundan received a certificate of bravery from a church in Shallcross.
Warrant Officer Hemant Raghoonundan received a certificate of bravery from a church in Shallcross.
Sadia Sukhraj
Sadia Sukhraj
DURBAN - CHASING baddies and bringing them to book is a way of life for hero cop Warrant Officer Hemant Raghoonundan, who is based at the Malvern Police Station.

And after 26 years of working as a policeman, often in dangerous circumstances, Raghoonundan credits his wife’s daily prayers for his longevity in the profession.

Raghoonundan was the off-duty policeman who nabbed one of the suspects who allegedly hijacked pastor Shailendra Sukhraj and his 9-year-old daughter, Sadia, in Shallcross last week.

Raghoonundan’s “serve and protect” instincts kicked into gear when he heard tyres screeching in his neighbourhood, even though he was off duty.

He had the eerie feeling that a hijacking was in progress.

Outside his house, the hijackers were making off with Sukhraj’s vehicle.

Sukhraj was dropping off his younger child with his parents who lived nearby.

Raghoonundan immediately gave chase on foot and caught up with one suspect, 39-year-old Sibonelo Mkhize, who has since made court appearances.

One suspect was found dead at the scene, while a third suspect fled the scene.

Sadia Sukhraj

Sadia, who was briefly taken in the car by the suspects, was shot in the stomach and later died in hospital.

While Raghoonundan’s gun was cleared after a ballistics test, police are yet to reveal whose bullet killed the youngster.

After such encounters, the mild-mannered policeman said daily prayers were his saving grace.

“My wife always leads the prayer sessions because she is concerned about my safety," Raghoonundan said.

"As a cop there is no guarantee that I’ll return home alive,” he said.

Raghoonundan, a Hindu, said his family prayers were as important as the daily ones led by a pastor before every shift he worked.

“We always place our faith in the Lord because we understand our jobs are dangerous.

"We often chase after baddies who are ruthless,” he said.

After all his years of service, Raghoonundan said he was still passionate about tackling tough criminals to keep civilians safe.

Raghoonundan, who received an award for his recent bravery from a local church, said he had received numerous medals of honour in the past, but the latest was closest to his heart.

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SUNDAY TRIBUNE