Major ‘Pipes’ retires

2015-10-01 10:51
Brigadier Francis Bantham changes the medals on Major Yusuf ‘Pipes’ Haffajee’s uniform, signifying his promotion on his last day before he enters retirement.

Brigadier Francis Bantham changes the medals on Major Yusuf ‘Pipes’ Haffajee’s uniform, signifying his promotion on his last day before he enters retirement. (Ian Carbutt, The Witness)

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Pietermaritzburg - With 41 years in the force and a string of solved high-profile cases under his belt, a Pietermaritzburg super-detective has announced his retirement.

A special ceremony was held yesterday for Mountain Rise’s go-to man for tracing hardened murderers — Captain Yusuf “Pipes” Haffajee — on his last day as an officer of the law.

At the gathering, Haffajee’s friends, family and colleagues from the station watched as uMgungundlovu North cluster commander Brigadier Francis Bantham changed the medals on his uniform, signifying his promotion from Captain to Major.

The “backdated” promotion came a few days before Haffajee’s retirement, but the medals and a new hat, which completes the major’s uniform, were handed to him yesterday.

Born in Durban, Haffajee joined the South African Police Service when he moved to Pietermaritzburg in 1974 and during his tenure, he has worked in the crime prevention unit, administration unit, tracing unit and detective’s unit at various local stations.

Using his wealth of resources and skills over the years, Haffajee has been responsible for countless arrests of hardened suspects responsible for some of the city’s most vicious crimes.

He said one of the cases that stands out most for him was the arrest of Madan Maharaj, a man who brutally murdered his wife, Caroline, in 2005 before escaping custody and fleeing to Durban where Haffajee traced him in 2012, seven years after the incident.

Maharaj was thereafter sentenced to 25 years’ imprisonment for the offence.

When asked what his most challenging case was, Haffajee pointed out that each new case is a new challenge.

However, a particular case he spoke of was the murder of a six-year-old Northdale boy, Raelin Devnarain.

Intruders beat Raelin to death and left his mother, Pradantha, barely alive when they entered their home in Primrose Road in 2009.

“This case affected everybody who attended the crime scene. With my dedicated team of detectives from the Serious and Violent Crime Unit, we searched for every clue and evidence that would assist in the investigation,” Haffajee said.

The suspect was eventually arrested and sentenced to life imprisonment.

Speaking about his retirement, he said although he has no immediate plans, he hopes to spend time with his family as well as supporting charity projects and events in the community.

“The police has been the love of my life for 41 years so how would one feel? Nostalgic? Apprehensive?” Hafajee said when asked how it felt to leave the force.

At yesterday’s send-off, where a cake was cut and a certificate of recognition was handed over to him, Haffajee’s colleagues became teary-eyed when speaking about him.

Mountain Rise acting station commander Boxer Pillay said he has learnt a lot from Haffajee.

“He was a true asset to the police,” Pillay said.

Bantham, who sobbed as she saluted Haffajee, said it was an honour to say farewell yesterday

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  police  |  saps

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