Trizae Dayaram with Simba a day before he was shot and killed
Trizae Dayaram with Simba a day before he was shot and killed

Family mourn the loss of brave police dog killed in the line duty

By Chanelle Lutchman Time of article published Jun 25, 2021

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Durban: The handler and partner of a police dog that was shot while hunting down suspects said his canine was the best in the country.

Last week, police tracked four suspects to a vehicle in Pietermaritzburg. The men were wanted in connection with the killing of Lieutenant Colonel Ndawonde, the acting station commander at Ndwedwe SAPS. He was shot last month.

Two suspects jumped out of the vehicle and fled into a sugarcane field. The other two crashed the vehicle and were apprehended. Simba, 12, and his handler, Captain Reeno Dayaram, were part of the group that went in search of the suspects.

While Simba located one of the men and tackled him, the suspect retaliated and shot him in the head. The Dutch Shepherd died minutes later. Another dog, Shaka, was also killed and a third, Duke, was shot in the head. Duke was airlifted to the Hilton Veterinary Hospital for emergency surgery and is recovering.

Dayaram, who was been a policeman for 12 years, said Simba's death was not in vain.

“He died a hero. Simba was one of the best dogs in our unit and the country. He was a dog that every unit looked for whenever they went out for big cases. Simba was a hard worker. He took on people with AK47s and he lived to catch criminals.”

Dayaram said Simba was nine months old when they met.

“I am part of the Pietermaritzburg Dog Unit. I had a dog but he was killed so I needed another one. When I met Simba, we hit it off immediately. We bonded well and when I took him home to my family, he bonded well with them as well, particularly with my second daughter, Trizae. She was just a toddler at the time.

Simba with Diego and Trizae Dayaram and their other pet, Sparky.

“I wanted to name him Mufasa, from the Lion King movie, but my daughter insisted I name him Simba, so I did. He was not just a dog but he was also family. He stayed with me at home and came to work to do his duties. Simba had the ability to switch into work mode whenever we left home each morning and change to a playful baby the moment we entered the yard after work. My wife told me that I should learn to be like him because I always focused on work.”

Dayaram said although Simba was 12, he was still strong.

“Normally, we start to see our dogs get old and tired around 11-years-old but Simba’s passion for his work did not allow him to get tired. He always pushed to be out in the field. He loved it. If I didn’t take him out, he used to look at me sadly. I was planning to retire him next year but unfortunately, this had to happen.”

He said he and his family were devastated by Simba’s passing.

“While we were chasing the suspects, we crossed the path of the first dog, Shaka, that was shot. His handler told me not to go in as Simba would also be shot. But Simba wanted to go in. Also, if we did not go in more people would get shot and injured. We had to go.

“As we entered the direction they were in, I felt a tug on the leash and I could feel that Simba had a suspect on him but while I was running towards him, I heard the shots go off. When I got there, I shot the suspect and rushed to Simba. He was shot in the head. I sat next to him, put my hand on him and rubbed him and spoke to him. He passed away shortly thereafter. It was not easy. I asked my team to carry him out and we transported him to the vet."

Dayaram said Simba worked on cases in Pietermaritzburg and Durban that the Hawks were investigating.

“One case he cracked was of the suspect who killed police officers during a cash-in-transit heist in 2015. He tracked all three suspects in that case in a sugarcane field. Another case was where a murder suspect was running away and ran into a tavern with hundreds of people inside. Simba went in and did not bite anyone, only the suspect that we were looking for.

“Then, when a dog handler was shot in Hilton, Simba went out the whole night tracking the suspect until we apprehended him. He was the best partner and my best friend.”

He said Simba was given a number of bravery and service awards during his career as a police dog.

“For six years in a row, he was given the best working dog award by the police. He was also honoured with an excellence award by the provincial commissioner for cracking a big case in Richmond.”

Dayaram, who is waiting for his next canine partner, said Simba would be cremated. He said he would keep Simba’s ashes. The fourth suspect, who fled in the sugarcane field, was killed.

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