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2023-01-16 at 16:33 #389443Nat QuinnKeymaster
Being a police officer is more than just a job. It is a calling; it is something that saves the country, saves communities, builds the economy, creates growth, and gives people peace of mind. This was the message from Dr Imtiaz Sooliman, chair of the Gift of the Givers Foundation, to police at a weekend awards ceremony.
Good security and good policing were essential to the well-being of South Africa, Dr Imtiaz Sooliman, the founder and chairperson of the Gift of Givers Foundation, told police at the Western Cape SAPS Excellence Awards on Saturday.
The barometer of the country could be gauged by crime, which was at an all-time high, he said.
“The economy is in your (police) hands. This is not just a police officer’s job. It is a calling; it is something that saves the country, something that saves communities, something that builds the economy, creates growth, and something that gives people peace of mind.
He reminded police that the job entailed an element of risk, and warned that criminals “will ride you” if they dedected that a police office was fearful. “You should not be afraid of any kind of criminal. Hence a strong police force and a brave strategy is critical.”
The ceremony was held at the Century Conference Centre, where the dignitaries included Western Cape police commissioner Lieutenant-General Thembisile Patekile; Reagen Allen, Western Cape police oversight and community safety MEC; police commissioners from other provinces; police who retired during Covid-19 and had not received a proper farewell; and members of the legal fraternity.
The theme of this year’s awards – which acknowledge and celebrate the outstanding contributions of SAPS employees – was “African Dream”.
But it was not only about the excellent service from men and women in blue, but also to remember those who died in the line of duty and during the Covid-19 pandemic.
When Covid arrived, Sooliman explained, some people in the medical field shifted their responsibilities. “When you became a doctor, you came to save lives, even if it meant risking your own life in the process.”
Lauding SAPS members, Sooliman said: “To me, the greatest joy would be if I were a cop and in your shoes, and my son or daughter told me he wants to be like me. Do you understand what that means? Your child aspires to be a police officer.”
He said the negative, destructive image of the police is being painted by a small group seeking attention, adding that the best way to destroy a society is to constantly instil negativity.
Negativity destroyed morale and functionality, “which is why, whenever I speak, I tell the media not to say the government or the police are corrupt, because not everyone in those sectors are corrupt”.
That narrative could be defeated, Sooliman said.
“My school teacher told me, ‘my son, when you see a person that has certain bad habits, don’t focus on that, focus on something good that person did, keep focus on the positive things and that person will start picking the positive role up and the negativity goes down’.”
‘Don’t hide criminals’
The SAPS, he stressed, has a very important role in the country, but to effectively fulfil it communities must stop hiding criminals
“Communities must stop protecting their own sons and daughters, fathers and brothers. Come forward and bring your names.”
Sooliman added that the rate of prosecution is too low, which means police work is wasted.
“A teacher once stated that the eyes cannot do the work of the hand, the hand cannot do the work of the ear, and the ear cannot do the work of the eyes. The ear cannot perform the work of the mind and the mind cannot perform the work of the heart.
“Every sector of society, including SAPS, religious organisations and the government, has a role to play. To combat this scourge, all these sectors must band together,” he said.
The top achievers
Top Detective: Lieutenant-Colonel Adrian Pretorius. His investigation led to the arrest and prosecution of, and double life sentence handed to David van Boven in July 2022 for the double murder of UWC student Jesse Hess and her grandfather, Chris Lategan, in August 2019
Woman of the Year: Warrant Officer Wendy Lee from a satellite station in Herold, George.
Man of the Year: Constable Kwayo Louw.
Community Police Forum of the Year: Wynberg CPF, accepted by Anzar Salie.
Catch of the Year: OCI Narcotics for a R583-million cocaine haul on a fishing vessel in Saldanha Bay in March 2021.
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