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Two families' grief

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Two families' grief

by Shahista Rohan-Toefy
16 Jul 2008
Peoples Post
Peoples Post

CAPTAIN Vuyo Abel Daca and Inspector John Hofmeyer were two Athlone men with the same dreams. They both wanted to serve their communities and they both wanted to do this by fighting crime.

For one man this dream was fulfilled through a lifelong career of service to the police. For the other, the dream came crashing down under a hail of bullets on the streets he tried to serve.

Captain Vuyo Daca, in his thirties, didn't know when he left home on Saturday morning that it would be the last time he'd see the family he loved.

Inspector Muneeb Africa and Constable Quinton Japhta were patrolling in Gatesville on Saturday evening when they heard a police officer had been shot in Langa at 22:25. On arrival they heard numerous gunshots and saw Daca's bloodied body lying on the ground.

They asked why he had not yet been moved and was told that he was caught in the crossfire of the shooting.

They fired stun grenades at the attacker and dragged Daca to safety. He was later taken to the hospital.

The battle continued and the suspect disappeared between the houses in the settlement. As Japhta and Africa were heading to Langa police station, they heard over the radio that Daca had died. When they got to the station at 02:00, a lady said she knew where the suspect was hiding and led them to an unmarked car.

After another chase, they captured the suspect and confiscated Daca's gun from him.

Police were unable to say how many bullets had entered Daca's body, but only that there were many.

"After the ordeal reality sunk in and I realised that a father of three children and a good police officer had died. I guess it's part of the job," said Japhta.

Captain Andre Venter, communications officer for the Athlone police, said the station was very proud of the two officers who came to Daca's aid, and said they would definitely receive recognition.

Daca was from the Eastern Cape. After having been made captain, he was transferred to Athlone, where he served for about two years. He had been moved to the Langa station because it was under-staffed.

Meanwhile, on the other side of Athlone, 65-year-old Inspector John Hofmeyer was happily contemplating his approaching retirement. Yesterday morning, Hofmeyer was being driven to the police station to start the last of his days in the police force - one day in 40 years.

His son Renato Hofmeyer, also a policeman at Lansdowne police station, had come off duty and was taking his dad to work. On the way to the Athlone police station, John complained of a pain in his chest. The next instant he collapsed on the front seat. His son called for help, but it was too late.

After four decades of dealing with some of the area's toughest crimes and criminals, and just on the eve of his retirement, John died of a massive heart attack. John leaves behind his wife, four children, seven grandchildren and four great grandchildren.

His wife Rosetta (52) said he would always be remembered for his jovial personality.

"There was never a dull moment with him. He still greeted me this morning and told me he loves me."

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