One of the Durban metro police officers was on the brink of promotion, while the other was near retirement when they were gunned down.
This emerged at the Thursday memorial service for Sergeant Zephania Dladla and Constable Nomasonto Mhlanga who were killed on Monday night.
Paying tribute to Mhlanga, director for eThekwini Metro North Region, Vasantha Singh said she was a "vibrant, brave, outspoken woman who was intent on furthering her police career".
"Her dreams ended when she was robbed of her life."
Singh said they spoke in her office two weeks ago.
"We had a long, important conversation. We laughed, we cried and we shared time together. In that meeting, I also informed her she would be moved to the airport as an acting captain. She was overjoyed and hugged and kissed me."
Singh said when she got to the scene to discover it was Mhlanga, "My heart broke."
Remembering Dladla, Singh said: "He was an inspector who was a humble person and was so well respected. He was close to retirement."
"I couldn't believe somebody could perform such a heinous act."
She lauded the metro police's unity.
"The demonstration of brotherhood. We stood as one wearing a blue uniform. We have lost two valuable gems that are hard to replace."
Singh told the grieving families that they empathised with them.
"We feel your pain, your pain is our pain as well. All we can offer is heartfelt condolences and support. We hope you can find some peace with memories you have of beloved ones."
We were sisters
Mhlanga's friend and colleague Hlobisile Madonsela said they had become more than friends while at the metro police college.
"We ended up being sisters in the year we shared in college. We became a family."
She said Mhlanga always kept a positive attitude.
"She was always saying that happiness comes first. We became very close. We ended up meeting each other's families."
Madonsela said she was heartbroken to find out about Mhlanga's death on Monday.
"We just responded not knowing what we would find there, because it is the nature of the job. Before I got there colleagues kept telling me not to go there and were making excuses for me not to attend."
Dladla's brother-in-law, Reuben Matsimbi said he was like a blood brother.
"He was the one who guided me and looked after me. He is an in-law by name, but he was my brother."
He said they died in "such an unnecessary, gruesome way".
"The man behind the blue badge, he is a father with children. He has a family. Metro police should be treated like people."
The duo was guarding Councillor Moses Zulu's residence in Bhambayi near Phoenix when they came under attack.
Three suspects were nabbed in the early hours of Thursday in KwaMashu with a fourth suspect thought to have been wounded during a shootout with police. He is under heavy police guard at a city hospital.