Top cop al­so a chess whizz

Knysna-Plett Herald - - Misdaad | Crime - Yo­lan­de S­tan­der yo­lan­

Be­hind the bad­ge, P­let­ten­berg Bay’s po­li­ce sta­ti­on com­man­der is a man of ma­ny ta­lents.

Not on­ly has he been pro­tecting and ser­ving the com­mu­ni­ty for the past three de­ca­des, but Co­lo­nel No­lan Mi­cha­els is al­so chess whizz, a de­cent gol­fer and an a­vid re­a­der.

Mi­cha­els, who al­so play­ed a key ro­le in en­su­ring P­lett be­co­ming the top-per­for­ming po­li­ce sta­ti­on in the E­den clus­ter o­ver the past fi­nan­ci­al y­e­ar, was born and rai­sed in Knys­na, but has wor­ked a­cross the coun­try – and fil­led the shoes of com­man­der at a­bout 10 sta­ti­ons. For the past three y­e­ars, he has been the he­ad of the P­let­ten­berg Bay sta­ti­on.

“As far back as I can re­mem­ber I’ve wan­ted to ma­ke a dif­fe­ren­ce, to fig­ht for jus­ti­ce,” Mi­cha­els says a­bout his ca­reer choi­ce.

Alt­hough he does not co­me from a fa­mi­ly of po­li­ce of­fi­cers, but gui­ded by this dri­ve to fig­ht a­gainst the a­tro­ci­ties fa­ced by com­mu­ni­ties a­cross South A­fri­ca, Mi­cha­els joi­ned the po­li­ce on May 14, 1987. For Mi­cha­els, this is a day that still stands out as one of the high­lig­hts of his ca­reer.

“I re­mem­ber w­hen I be­ca­me an of­fi­cer,” he re­calls. “Our su­pe­ri­ors spo­ke a­bout the re­spon­si­bi­li­ty of our job. The gra­vi­ty of w­hat I was em­bar­king on set in at that mo­ment and it was such an ho­nour to ta­ke up that re­spon­si­bi­li­ty. C­ha­ri­ots of Fi­re was playing du­ring the ce­re­mo­ny. It is a mo­ment that will stay with me the rest of my li­fe.”

For this fat­her of two, li­fe has de­li­ver­ed ma­ny ot­her high­lig­hts – “too ma­ny to men­ti­on” – in­clu­ding the birth of his child­ren.

“I’ve al­so seen the be­st and the worst of so­cie­ty o­ver the y­e­ars.”

He adds that he co­pes with being ex­po­sed to the hor­rors that go hand-in-hand with po­li­ce work, through “strong spi­ri­tu­al va­lu­es”.

A­bout low points in his ca­reer, Mi­cha­els says the­re are lucki­ly very few. “I ha­ve been bles­sed with end­less pa­tien­ce, so the­re is very litt­le that gets to me.”

W­hen he is not fig­hting cri­me he en­joys a ga­me of chess – a skill that has co­me in han­dy in terms of po­li­ce stra­tegy.

Alt­hough mo­dest, Mi­cha­els the chess play­er is cle­ar­ly a for­ce to be recko­ned, as he has not on­ly ma­de it on­to the We­stern Ca­pe po­li­ce chess te­am se­ver­al ti­mes but al­so on­to the na­ti­o­nal te­am.

“I’m not a gre­at golf play­er, but w­hen I ha­ve ti­me I en­joy spen­ding ti­me on the golf cour­se. I lo­ve being out­doors,” the 18-han­di­cap gol­fer says.

Mi­cha­els al­so finds ple­a­su­re in re­a­ding, es­pe­ci­al­ly au­to­bi­o­graphies. In his words, “I en­joy books that te­ach you so­mething.” His fa­vou­ri­te book is O­li­via For­syth’s A South A­fri­can Spy B­re­aks Her Si­len­ce.

T­hey say the way to a man’s he­art is through his sto­mach and this saying rings true for the ace po­li­ce of­fi­cer, who says he can­not get e­nough of his wi­fe’s cook­ing. “I al­so lo­ve se­a­food, and li­ving on the Gar­den Rou­te re­al­ly helps in that re­gard.”

Mi­cha­els, who li­ves in Knys­na, says his ti­me in P­let­ten­berg Bay has been a gre­at jour­ney so far. “Not on­ly do I ha­ve a very spe­ci­al te­am of de­di­ca­ted of­fi­cers be­hind me, but we ha­ve an in­cre­di­ble com­mu­ni­ty that con­tri­bu­tes gre­at­ly to our po­li­ce succes­ses.”

He adds that P­let­ten­berg Bay is u­ni­que in that the­re is a very strong re­la­ti­ons­hip be­t­ween va­ri­ous ro­le play­ers, from neig­hbour­hood wa­tch groups, the P­let­ten­berg Bay Cri­me P­re­ven­ti­on As­so­ci­a­ti­on and se­cu­ri­ty com­pa­nies to the mu­ni­ci­pa­li­ty and the com­mu­ni­ty at lar­ge.

“This re­la­ti­ons­hip has play­ed a gre­at ro­le in re­du­cing cri­me in the a­rea and is a re­la­ti­ons­hip we will con­ti­nue to build on.”

Mi­cha­els says his ul­ti­ma­te go­al in li­fe is to le­ad by ex­am­ple. “W­hen I’m not he­re a­ny­mo­re one day I want to le­a­ve be­hind a te­am of ca­pa­ble pe­op­le who can con­ti­nue the jour­ney I’m on.”

P­ho­to: Yo­lan­de S­tan­der

Co­lo­nel No­lan Mi­cha­els has 30 y­e­ars of po­li­ce ex­pe­rien­ce and has in­ves­ted that kno­w­led­ge in P­let­ten­berg Bay, w­he­re he has been the sta­ti­on com­man­der for the past three y­e­ars.

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