Slain Pietermaritzburg officer’s fiancée endures funeral pain

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Pietermaritzburg police officer Jeandre Venter died in a hail of bullets last Thursday during a police operation in Msinga.
Pietermaritzburg police officer Jeandre Venter died in a hail of bullets last Thursday during a police operation in Msinga.

The grieving fiancée of a police officer who was shot last week in Msinga in the line of duty had to endure more torment just to get him a proper police send-off.

And it was only on Thursday, the day of Jeandre Andries Jacobus Venter’s funeral, when Barbara Sally Datel arrived at the funeral home that she found out he was going to have a state funeral.

“I was beyond angry. I was gutted and began to scream. It was such a disrespect. He deserved to have a full send-off. They could not take that away from him. I actually walked away.”
Barbara Sally Datel

Venter died in a hail of bullets last Thursday during a police operation. He was stationed at the Alexandra Road Vehicle Crime Investigation Unit.

Datel said on Friday that last week Friday, when she went to Venter’s workplace to fetch his belongings, she enquired about his funeral.

She was told by police officers that due to Covid-19, he would not be getting an official send-off.

READ MORE | KwaZulu-Natal police officer killed in Msinga

On Sunday, this was confirmed by another officer who visited her along with a psychologist.

The news upset her immensely. She said she began to question how another officer she heard of got a state funeral during the lockdown.

“I was beyond angry. I was gutted and began to scream. It was such a disrespect. He deserved to have a full send-off. They could not take that away from him. I actually walked away,” she said.

The officer and psychologist had to be escorted out by Venter’s mother and step-father.

“They kept saying they can’t promise anything due to the Covid-19 regulations.”
Barbara Sally Datel

Datel was then contacted by the same officer and asked about the funeral details. She added that she told him that what’s happening seems to be racially motivated and that the race card won’t work with her. The officer said he would make some calls and get back to her.

She said she told him that she wants police pallbearers and the SA flag on his coffin. She also wanted Venter escorted from the funeral home to the church. “They kept saying they can’t promise anything due to the Covid-19 regulations.”

READ MORE | Fiancé distraught after Pietermaritzburg cop is murdered in Msinga, KwaZulu-Natal

She said she could not understand because all the Covid-19 regulations could still be followed if Venter has a state funeral.

Datel then arranged for family to come down from the Free State to be the pallbearers.

On Tuesday, she was told to write a letter requesting a proper police send-off. Although she did, she never heard anything from anyone.

“Everyone got thrown aside for the police to take over the service.”
Barbara Sally Datel

Datel then went ahead and made all the arrangements, including who was going to speak at the funeral. Then on the day of the funeral, she went to the funeral parlour to escort Venter herself. There she saw a whole lot of police officers and realised he was going to get a police send-off.

“Everyone got thrown aside for the police to take over the service.”

Had she known this was going to happen, she would have planned for it.

Police spokesperson, Sergeant Mthokozisi Ngobese, said a letter has to be written requesting a state funeral by the family because “we can’t take over a funeral”. Ngobese said that since it’s an honour to be given a police send-off, the commander also has to write a letter in support of what the family wants.

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