After 38 years serving the local community, Hartbeespoort’s well-loved and respected police station commander, Colonel Jannie van der Walt is saying goodbye. He retires from the police service at the end of June and for the Hartbeespoort community, it is a big loss.
“It is time for me to hand over the reins to a new, young and energetic commander who will continue to serve the community. I have given my all during my time here and even if I have made only a small difference in the safety of the community, I leave a happy man,” he says.
Col Van der Walt started at the Hartbeespoort police station fresh out of school in 1981. He was promoted to Sergeant in 1988, Warrant Officer in 1991, Captain in 1996, Lt Col in 2005 and finally to Colonel in 2017 when he became station commander. Even before being appointed as station commander, he acted as station commander on numerous occasions during his career.
His office is already in the process of being packed up and the various memorabilia over a period of almost 40 years, tells a story of a long and eventful career in serving the community as a police officer.
There are photos of the good old days in Hartbeespoort, like the popular police carnival during the Formula 1 boat race on Hartbeespoort Dam (remember those days?) which he organised in the 1990s, and many other historic events at the station.
Important highlights of his career was the establishment of one of the first community policing forums in South Africa in Hartbeespoort in 1995, his hard work with the provincial police management services to upgrade the resources and manpower at the Hartbeespoort police station, and the establishment of the K9 unit at Hartbeespoort, to name but a few.
And then there is the long list of awards the police station and its members received under his reign as station commander since 2017. The CPF received the award for the best in North West in 2017 and Col Van der Walt was announced as the second runner up in the Vispol Employee of the Year. Hartbeespoort police station was announced as the best station in North West and second best in South Africa in 2018. Also in 2018 the station’s Visible Policing department was crowned the best in North West and second best nationally.
“All this would not have been possible without the help of my colleagues, the community’s support and the CPF,” he says.
“I would like to take this opportunity to thank the community and especially the CPF and particularly, chairperson Romano van der Spuy, the sector crime forums, community safety structures, neighbourhood watches and rural safety groups. My sincere thanks also to NECSA security and emergency services, members of the previous Broederstroom Commando and reservists for their support. A special thank you to the Brits Cluster Commander Maj. Genl. Mosimanegape. My gratitude is furthermore extended to all my previous and current SAPS colleagues. I appreciate each and every person’s kind support through the years. God has been my rock and fortress and I thank Him for the opportunity that I had to serve and protect to the best of my ability.”
He has wanted to become a police officer for as long as he can remember, and never wanted another career. “It has been a long, sometimes hard but rewarding career and I am going to miss it. But it is time to move on and although I am retiring, I am not going to sit still. I have lots of work to do on our smallholding for which I never had time. And importantly I will be able to spend time with my family who has loyally supported me and stood by me all these years. And who knows what opportunities might come my way. But just retiring and doing nothing… never!”