Now you can call me Colonel

African Times - - News - PIET RAMPEDI

WHEN Colonel Moat­she Ngoepe cracked one se­ri­ous mur­der case af­ter the other in Bolobedu in the early 90’s, he had no idea that was the be­gin­ning of a long and re­ward­ing ca­reer in the South Africa Po­lice Ser­vices (SAPS).

The then young de­tec­tive, who was tasked with prob­ing cases in­volv­ing the mur­ders of two peo­ple or more, as well as cul­pa­ble homi­cide cases in­volv­ing the deaths of four peo­ple or more, had man­aged to round up and lock high pro­file crim­i­nals in the Mopani area of Limpopo, es­pe­cially around Ga-Kga­pane and Tza­neen.

In one of the in­ci­dences, the young Ngoepe had been called in to in­ves­ti­gate the mur­ders of a cer­tain Mr. Raolane, who had been hi­jacked, kid­napped and even­tu­ally killed along­side his son at Khetl­hakone – the head­quar­ters of the Mod­jadji Queen­ship in the Greater Letaba Mu­nic­i­pal­ity – about 130 km east of Polok­wane.

It was a com­plex case. The sus­pects were un­known. The vic­tims were miss­ing. Their bod­ies un­ac­counted for. And the where­abouts of their car un­known.

Af­ter work­ing on the case for months, Ngoepe fi­nally made a break­through. He traced the vic­tims’ bod­ies to a shal­low grave in the Molo­totsi River, and the stripped car’s parts to the buy­ers in var­i­ous vil­lages in­clud­ing Mo­ra­palala, Motl­hommene and Mmad­u­mane.

“I suc­cess­fully in­ves­ti­gated that case, which was so quite. Sus­pects were un­known, no­body knew what had hap­pened but I cracked it. Af­ter killing them, they had buried them in­side Molo­totsi River.

They took the ve­hi­cle and cut it into pieces, and went to sell those parts and I man­aged to col­lect all those ve­hi­cle parts back to the fam­ily. They were suc­cess­fully con­victed and sen­tenced to life by the High Court in Tza­neen,” recalls Colonel Ngoepe.

“As a de­tec­tive I had a 100 per­cent so­lu­tion on my cases, mean­ing that I was in­ves­ti­gat­ing cases of mur­der, cul­pa­ble homi­cide where four peo­ple up­wards were killed dur­ing the in­ci­dents, and al­most 95 per­cent of the peo­ple we had ar­rested were sent to jail for life, and five per­cent would re­ceive 10 years to 15 years.”

Colonel Ngoepe’s hard work paid off again to­day when Limpopo Po­lice Com­mis­sioner Lieu­tenant Gen­eral Nneke Led­waba ap­pointed the 55-year-old as the prov­ince’s new SAPS spokesper­son and head of me­dia sec­tion. He was also pro­moted to the rank of Colonel along­side 11 other of­fi­cers at a spe­cially ar­ranged func­tion in Mook­gophong.

“These new ranks should not make you think that you have ar­rived at your des­ti­na­tion. You must in­stead be pro­pelled to do more in serv­ing the peo­ple of South Africa in gen­eral and Limpopo prov­ince in par­tic­u­lar,” said Gen­eral Led­waba.

A proud Colonel Ngoepe has at­trib­uted his hon­our to hard work and pas­sion for his job.

NABBED: Limpopo po­lice, for whom Colonel Ngoepe is the spokesper­son, ar­rest one of the crim­i­nal sus­pects in this file picture.

“First of all, to me, it’s a great recog­ni­tion by the SAPS be­cause when I joined the po­lice I had only one pas­sion: to pro­tect my com­mu­nity. I did not have this thing in mind to say one day I can be pro­moted. What I wanted to see were our com­mu­ni­ties be­ing safe at all times.

I al­ways make sure what­ever I do I do it to the best of my abil­ity, be­cause you will un­der­stand that when do any­thing with pas­sion, you don’t look for any­thing like in­cen­tives and so forth, be­cause I wanted to be a po­lice of­fi­cer when I was still in school,” he says.

Un­like many cops who ended up with SAPS by de­fault, a ca­reer as a cop had been Colonel Ngoepe’s dream since he was a teenager.

“I re­mem­ber, in most in­ci­dences where there were school ac­tiv­i­ties in­clud­ing dra­mas, I was al­ways cho­sen to act as a po­lice of­fi­cer. Now that thing also added on my in­ten­tion to be a po­lice of­fi­cer, that’s where I am now.”

As pro­vin­cial spokesper­son, Colonel Ngoepe is one of four sec­tion heads re­port­ing to Bri­gadier Mot­lafela Mo­japelo, who is the Head of Com­mu­ni­ca­tion, Mar­ket­ing and Cor­po­rate Ser­vices for the SAPS in Limpopo.

It’s been a long jour­ney for the ca­reer po­lice of­fi­cer, who hails from Taueatswala vil­lage in Steiloop, Water­berg district. It is a cul­mi­na­tion of a suc­cess­ful po­lice ca­reer which started in Bolobedu in 1985, when he joined the SAPS as a fresh re­cruit from col­lege.

It was not long be­fore the young de­tec­tive im­pressed his bosses with his clin­i­cal ap­proach and at­ten­tion to de­tails, which sent many no­to­ri­ous crim­i­nals to jail.

Within five years, he had been pro­moted to the rank of Lieu­tenant. Af­ter a suc­cess­ful 10 year ca­reer as a de­tec­tive, cou­pled with an im­pres­sive track record, Colonel Ngoepe moved to the com­mu­ni­ca­tions unit of the SAPS, as a com­mu­ni­ca­tions of­fi­cer for th Bolobedu po­lice sta­tion.

“I started as a com­mu­ni­ca­tion of­fi­cer of the sta­tion in Bolobedu, and then I moved to Giyani when I was the com­mu­ni­ca­tion of­fi­cer for the for­mer Mopani area where I was com­mu­ni­cat­ing on be­half of 20 po­lice sta­tions, then from there I moved to Tza­neen where I worke as a clus­ter of­fi­cer com­mand­ing seven po­lice sta­tions.”

Even in his new role as the mouth piece of the SAPS in the area, he still ex­celled. He has been SAPS com­mu­ni­ca­tion of­fi­cer for th past 23 years ex­clud­ing the 10 year un­der his belt as a top de­tec­tive. But what has made him to be as suc­cess­ful a po­lice me­dia of­fi­cer as he was a de­tec­tive.

“I al­ways make sure I am avail­able for the jour­nal­ists, be­cau my un­der­stand­ing is that the jour­nal­ists are the ears and mouth of our com­mu­ni­ties. And I am her to serve our com­mu­ni­ties, and if I am not avail­able to the jour­nal­ists it’s equal to be­ing at a wrong place says Colonel Ngoepe.

As for the as­pi­rant com­mu­ni­ca­tors, Colonel Ngoepe’s mes­sage is sim­ple.

“To be­come a good com­mu­ni­ca­tion of­fi­cer you must b pas­sion­ate. You must be avail­able 24/7. What­ever jour­nal­ists want you must be there, so that at the end of the day, they do not write un­con­firmed in­ci­dents. Some of them you find that to­mor­row they are hav­ing se­ri­ous com­pli­ca­tions. you will be a use­less per­son.”

De­spite his ac­co­lades, Colonel Ngoepe says his 33-year un­in­ter­rupted ser­vice in the SAPS not about to end.

If any­thing, he says he is de­ter­mined to make sure his fu­tur in the po­lice ser­vice looks ex­actly like his past: one of hard work, pas­sion and ded­i­ca­tion.

Pictures: Le­bo­gang Mak­wela / Visu­alBuzz SA

TOP DOG: Colonel Moat­she Ngoepe has been ap­pointed as Limpopo pro­vin­cial po­lice spokesper­son and pro­moted to the rank of Colonel.

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