Durban - The widow of a Road Traffic Inspectorate (RTI) officer, who was knocked while the police were pursuing a vehicle, wants justice for her husband.
Provincial Inspector Devan Naik, 46, of Phoenix, was stationed at Winklespruit RTI. Naik and a colleague were conducting their routine speed operation when he was knocked on the N2, southbound near Prospecton last Sunday.
The father of two sons, aged 16 and 12, sustained severe head injuries and was airlifted to St Anne's Hospital in Pietermaritzburg. He died two days later.
Kwanele Ncalane, a spokesperson for the KZN Department of Transport, saidthe driver of a black VW Golf, which was travelling at 200km/h, was allegedly transporting drugs. He said the car was being pursued by metro police and the SAPS, when Naik, who tried to flag down the VW Golf, was knocked by another vehicle travelling in the opposite direction.
"The drug suspect was arrested immediately on the scene," said Ncalane.
He said Naik was in full uniform and was wearing a reflective vest, which was a requirement for traffic officers when conducting such operations.
Neliswa Peggy Nkonyeni, the KZN MEC for Transport, Community Safety and Liaison, said: "Provincial Inspector Naik was a gallant fighter, who died saving the nation from a dangerous drug lord and errant driver, who had no regard for the rule of law. We wish to convey our deepest condolences and sympathy to the Naik family and the entire traffic fraternity.
"Provincial Inspector Naik was one of the most dedicated and hard-working officers, who went beyond the call of duty to save the lives of innocent people on the road. He died with his boots on and in the line of duty. His departure will not be in vain but instead, we will pay close attention to both cases and make sure justice is done."
Krishni Naik, his wife, said: “If someone is found to have been negligent, which led to my husband’s death, then they need to be held responsible. We are in a lot of pain. My husband was the light of our home. He was the happiest person.
"He also loved his job. Devan previously worked as a motor mechanic, but he decided he wanted a career change which was more fulfilling and he joined the RTI about 17 years ago. He never looked back. It wasn’t just a job for him. He took his job seriously. Devan wanted to ensure that people followed the rules of the road. He wanted to protect the lives of others."
She said her husband had completed his first year studying towards his Road Traffic Management degree.
“He was a go-getter and wanted to advance himself. Devan had plans of opening some sort of business to ensure that when he and I were no longer on this earth, our sons would not have to struggle. His family was everything to him. He was the type of person who would rather spend time at home with us than going out."
On that morning, she said her husband left home early to start a 6am to 2pm shift.
“He smiled at me, as he always did, and said he would see me later. About two hours later, I received a call that had been knocked and that he was going to be taken to hospital. Because there were no hospital beds, due Covid-19 in Durban, he was airlifted to a hospital in Pietermaritzburg.
“I remember arriving at the hospital and seeing him being wheeled in. He had serious injuries. I went to the hospital every day. I got to see him while he was in the ICU, but he was unable to talk. He was stabilised and was doing okay for the first two days but then, on Tuesday, the doctor said his vitals were not good and that I should come to the hospital. He had passed away later that evening."
She said the family struggled to accept his death.
“It is like a repeat of a few years ago when Devan's brother was also killed in an accident around this time of the year. It is difficult on my mother-in-law, as she lost both her sons in such a tragic manner. Now, all we have is the memories that we will treasure."
Senior Superintendent Parboo Sewpersad, a metro police spokesperson, said the driver of the VW Golf was arrested and charged with reckless and negligent driving and for being in possession of crystal meth, rock cocaine and a pipe.
Ismail Sulaman, 28, appeared in the Durban Magistrate's Court. The case was postponed until August.
Captain Nqobile Gwala, a provincial police spokesperson, said a case of culpable homicide is being investigated by Isipingo SAPS. This pertains to the motorist who knocked Naik.
"Once the investigation has been completed, the docket will be taken to court for decision,” said Gwala.
Naik is survived by his wife, and two sons, Sashen and Viyashen.