The past six months had been a whirlwind of love, excitement and planning for Christene Pillay and Bradley Moonsamy as they looked forward to finally tying the knot on December 30.
“Everything was done; her wedding dress was bought and so was my son’s suit,” Silvanus Moonsamy told POST this week.
The love-struck couple were to have married in a simple ceremony at the Blue Lagoon Conference Centre.
They chose their favourite colours, black, turquoise and silver, as their wedding theme.
The meticulous planning of Pillay, a prison warder who would have turned 25 a day before her wedding, and Bradley, 25, a police constable, were such that they had already rented a new home in Northdene, set it up with new furniture and stocked it with groceries.
But they would never get to realise their dream of living together as man and wife.
On Friday night, Pillay’s ex-fiancé Shiraz Ismail, 23, apparently unwilling to accept that the woman he still loved was getting married to someone else, shot her twice in the back, killing her instantly.
He also shot her mother Elaine in the neck and a security guard he had befriended at the Pillays’ home in a gated complex in Eastbury, Phoenix.
The Blue Security armed-response officer from Umzinto, who was on duty and in uniform, then turned the gun on himself.
As Elaine fought for her life in the ICU of a Durban hospital on Tuesday, her shocked and devastated family laid Christene to rest after an emotional send-off at the Berea Church in Phoenix.
She does not know her daughter has died.
With tears in his eyes, Silvanus Moonsamy said Christene’s death had left both families shattered and his son, of Pinetown, distraught.
“On Friday night, Shiraz was supposed to be on duty in Chatsworth but he abandoned his shift and vehicle in the area and made his way to Christene’s home. At about 7pm, neighbours saw him dressed in his uniform chatting to the security guard at the complex but, because of his uniform, they did not suspect anything,” he said.
“Just before 9pm, the security guard went to Christene’s home. Thinking he wanted food, Elaine opened the door but within a split second Shiraz emerged with his gun. He shot at the security guard and then shot Elaine in the neck. Christene was right behind her mother and she was shot twice in the back. She died at the scene. Shiraz then shot himself in the head.”
Christene’s father Rajen Pillay, who had been asleep, awoke to find his wife and daughter both lying in pools of blood, he said.
“As the shooting was unfolding, Bradley was on his way to the complex to visit Christene.”
Silvanus said Christine had dated Ismail previously but had broken up with him because he was “possessive”.
“Bradley and Christene have been dating for a while now and six months ago they decided to get married. Within this few months they managed to put their wedding together,” he said.
“Our lives have been thrown into turmoil. This was supposed to be a month of celebrations and joy but it has been marred with sadness.
“My son is at a complete loss because Christene was everything to him. She was the gem in our home and the light of our lives. This is too hard and painful for us.”
Silvanus said the couple were looking forward to spending their lives together, buying their own home and starting a family.
“This is a double blow for my son as he recently lost his mother (Beverly). Christene was his pillar of strength during this hard time. My son is shattered.”
Ismail’s mother Shakoon said she had taken Christene “as a daughter”.
She said the couple had got engaged three years ago but Christene’s father had boycotted the proposal function at a prison hall in Umzinto.
She did not know why the couple had broken up, she said. “But they did keep in touch.”
Shakoon said her son was not violent and did not take drugs or alcohol. “He never harassed her with messages or phone calls.”
She said she was tired of people on social media referring to her son as a “coward” or being “insane”. She described him as “brave and strong”.
Shiraz had telephoned his sister at about 8pm Friday, she said. “He seemed normal and told her he loved her and that she must take care of herself.”
About two hours later, Shakoon said the police had called saying, “Your son shot himself and is dead.”
Ismail’s family is also upset with a media report stating that he had been obsessed with Christene.
“It’s clearly portrayed that Shiraz was ‘obsessed’ with this girl but seriously, did anyone ever bother to ask if she ever ‘led him on?”
“This article seems as if our family bred a murderer. What about the good he did putting his own life in the line of duty to actually protect people from crime (sic),” a relative posted on Facebook.
Blue Security managing director Henk van Bemmelen confirmed yesterday that Ismail had been on duty when he abandoned his post and company vehicle “without notice” in Chatsworth at about 7pm on Friday.
“When our control centre picked up that the officer could not be contacted via radio we immediately sent out an alert for a manhunt as we were concerned that he might have been hijacked or abducted by criminals.
“However, upon investigation it turned out that he had left the company vehicle unmanned in Chatsworth and somehow made his way to a house in Phoenix where he had an argument with his ex-girlfriend,” Van Bemmelen said.
“The argument became inflamed and her mother tried to intervene. He pulled out his firearm and shot his former girlfriend, her mother and himself. A security guard working at the premises was also injured during the shooting.”
Van Bemmelen said the company’s management and staff were “devastated by this tragedy”.
Ismail had no criminal record and had not shown any indication of instability in the workplace prior to the shooting, he said.
“Our officers undergo stringent security checks and training, which includes police criminal record checks and polygraph testing during the recruitment process.
“We also provide ongoing employee assistance programmes for staff who may need emotional and psychological support if the need arises.”
Police spokesperson Lieutenant-Colonel Thulani Zwane said an inquest docket had been opened.
The complex security guard who was also shot by Ismail was in a stable condition in hospital.