On a drive along Beach Road late on Sunday morning [November 28], I chanced upon a police van heading towards West Beach.
Local police have not earned a good reputation when it comes to addressing the lawless revelry which takes place at the beachfront and braai area on weekends, so I was intrigued when the police van stopped alongside a man who had just tossed an empty beer bottle into the long grass behind the West Beach shops.
We watched as some words were exchanged and then man retraced his steps and fished the bottle out of the grass and carried it to a bin just 30m away.
What an encouraging sight, but it got better.
In the West Beach parking lot, often the scene of car boot boozing with impunity, the same police van stopped alongside a couple of men who were sitting on a tailgate drinking gin. The lone police officer got out of his van, said something to the men and calmly took the bottle of gin and poured it out onto the ground.
Because this is such a rare response from the local police, it was astounding to see. This is the kind of policing that has been practised in Durban and Cape Town to quell the festive season lawlessness that takes place there – and it works well. Until Sunday, I had never witnessed such policing here.
The fact this policeman was alone in his van says even more about him. He had no backup, just his mandate as a member of SAPS and a strong personal conviction to uphold the law. He is a rare man, and I applaud him, and I’m sure all law-abiding residents feel the same.
In fact, when I related the story to some friends, they were also amazed.
I recognised the policeman, but will not mention his name, lest he become the target of vindictiveness from people who have no respect for the law, or even from colleagues who do not share his principles.
Just two days before, we came across four police officers walking around Rosehill Mall. We asked what they were doing there and they said it was to watch over Black Friday. This is simply laughable. We do not have Black Friday shopping riots in Port Alfred, and the mall has its own security.
When it was suggested they should rather be at the beach, one police officer in particular responded with hostility. It says much about his character.
As for me, I will root for the one good cop I saw at West Beach. We need more like him.
– Jon Houzet