‘They do feel nothing for our reservists’

Former Woodstock police reservist, Rashaad Hendricks, 60, and Raymond Wentzel, 60, served the station for 22 years.

Two former Woodstock police station reservists are feeling hard done by after they were asked in September to hand in their uniforms and end their service after 22 years without, they say, so much as a thank you.

Rashaad Hendricks, 60, and Raymond Wentzel, 60, told the Tatler about their years of crime-fighting, how it all began and how it has sadly ended.

“Woodstock police station gave us nothing for our 22 years of serving the community of Woodstock, Salt River and Observatory,” an angry Mr Hendricks said.

He said he had been convinced by Mr Wentzel, to join the force as a reservist. He had gladly done so after having completed a year of basic training and serving the Woodstock community.

“We started a friendship and brotherhood that is still part of our daily life. I care for his family and he cares for mine. He is more than a brother to me. As time went on, we became partners on the shifts doing duties together. Myself and Warrant Officer Wentzel served so many station commanders to the best of our ability, that can be confirmed with previous commanders,” Mr Hendricks said on behalf of both of them.

Mr Wentzel had been in charge of the Woodstock Neighbourhood Watch before approaching Mr Hendricks to become a reservist at the station. Little did the pair know they would go on to serve 22 years as reservists.

“Woodstock police station received our 10-year service medals about eight years ago and it was placed in a drawer in the Human Resources captain’s desk for a rainy day and is still there,” he said.

Mr Wentzel spent time as the Community Police Forum (CPF) chairman and then went to serve as provincial CPF chairman. “As time went on, we served on various reservist units within the South African Police Service and always made Woodstock proud. There are so many good, hard-working reservists out there doing their best and sterling work, but what do they get back in return? They work for free, for what? Without even a thank you,” said Mr Hendricks.

He said the pair were required to do crime prevention duties within the community, but were forced to use their private vehicles due to the shortage at the Woodstock police station. “That’s how serious we were about fighting crime,” he said.

“There were times that we as reservists were called up for payment duties, especially during election time and guess what? We never received a cent from the station. What I feel really mad about is the treatment that reservists get from the South African Police Service in general. They do feel nothing for our reservists who sacrifice their lives, their families and give up their own time to fight crime to make a difference,” Mr Hendricks said.

When asked why they were told to hand in their uniforms and leave, Mr Hendricks said: “We were told that we are 60 years old and have to resign.

“In a nutshell, reservists are nothing to the South African Police Service, only for people to use and abuse.

“This is my honest opinion of the South African Police Service.”

However, Woodstock police said they were waiting for the provincial police office to acknowledge the former reservists, as they had been part of the provincial task team.

Spokesperson at Woodstock police, Sergeant Hilton Malila, said the station acknowledged the “good work” of the two reservists and remained “grateful for their years of voluntary service”.

However, he added: “The station is however, disgusted to learn that the pair ran to the media rather than the station for answers. It’s a shame that all the hard work and dedication by the members must be overwhelmed by this negative article as people who read the article will never remember the good of the officers, but the negativity around the story will always be remembered.

“For that we are saddened at the Woodstock police.”

According to Sergeant Malila, the station were in the “planning phase” of a ceremony to recognise the efforts and contributions made by the two former reservists. “We just hope that by acknowledging the members at a formal function that it will still have a positive impact on the members and the community. Internal matters need to be discussed in-house and not be public,” Sergeant Malila said.

Western Cape Police Ombudsman (WCPO), advocate Vusi Pikoli, said in a statement that the department had been requested by the chairperson of the Standing Committee on Community Safety to investigate the decline in the number of active reservists in the Western Cape earlier this month.

He said the investigation by the WCPO would focus on whether there is an adverse impact on service delivery by the SAPS in the province as a result of the decline in the appointment of reservists. After being informed about Mr Hendricks and Mr Wentzel, Mr Pikoli said: “We invite the correspondents to make submissions in respect of our call for public comment, so that we may take their input into consideration during our investigation.”

In terms of Section 17 (3) of the Western Cape Community Safety Act of 2013 (Act 3 of 2013), the WCPO published a notice in the Provincial Government Gazette (PN212: 2017) on Friday November 24 inviting all people of the Western Cape to submit written representations about the decline in reservists to their offices within 30 days from the date of publication. All correspondents may contact the office on 021 483 0660 for details or email ombudsman@
wcpo.gov.za