Days after celebrating his 45th birthday, a traffic officer, who was stationed at Midway in Estcourt, was killed on duty in a hit-and-run accident on Sunday.Road Traffic Inspectorate Officer Thokozani Gcinani Cele, from Steadville, died instantly and the driver of the truck fled the scene.According to a statement from the KwaZulu-Natal Transport, Community Safety and Liaison Department, Cele and his colleagues were on duty doing a speed trap when the accident happened.During the operation, a truck failed to stop and knocked him.A case of hit-and-run was opened at Ladysmith police station. Police said they are following all possible leads to bring the suspect to book.KZN police spokesperson Captain Nqobile Gwala said no arrests have been made yet.Cele’s sister-in-law, Bishop Gugu Jele, said the family was distraught.“He just celebrated his birthday on August 16. It’s very difficult and it’s a shock. His absence is really felt in the house.”Jele described the father of three as a “gentle” and “beautiful soul”.“There is nothing that could replace him. He was a dedicated and committed man. In everything he did, he put his family first. Even the fact that he died on duty tells you that he was committed to work.”Jele said the family was broken by Cele’s death.In a statement, KZN MEC for Transport, Community Safety and Liaison Mxolisi Kaunda described the incident as a huge blow to the traffic fraternity and a setback to the department’s commitment to save lives on the road.“This is a great loss to the department,” he said.“The manner in which Cele died was unfortunate as it clearly indicates that the suspect is an irresponsible driver as he failed to stop. Road users must understand that traffic officers are on the road to keep them safe.”Kaunda urged all law enforcement officers to strain every nerve to find the suspect.“Anyone who may have witnessed the incident must assist the police with information that could lead to the arrest of the suspect,” said Kaunda.He also called upon the police to exercise extreme caution as they execute their duties to protect their lives and those of KZN people.