Policeman uses retirement to write book
AFTER serving almost four decades in the South African Police Service (SAPS), Lieutenant-Colonel Bennie Singh has been spending his retirement years writing his autobiography, titled Thirty Eight Years and Nine Months: The Story of a Career Policeman.
Singh, 57, of Phoenix, said the 120-page book chronicled his life – from childhood to becoming a policeman and the years leading up to his retirement.
“The book is contemporary and written in a conversational style,” said Singh, who started the project in 2012. The book was completed last October.
“I have been a policeman from the age of 18. After completing matric in 1981, I went for basic police training at the Wentworth Police Training College. It was there that I experienced where some boys become men and some men were reduced to a scrap heap.
“However, my training days taught me perseverance and the power to succeed against all odds. It taught me that if I never pushed myself to the limit, I would not have achieved more than I thought I could, which was completing basic training."
Singh said after passing the mental and physical training, he began working as a student constable in CR Swart Square six months later – on June 23 in 1982.
He later served at the Mozambique border and worked at Greenwood Park SAPS, Mount Edgecombe SAPS (White House), Phoenix SAPS, Laudium SAPS in Pretoria and Inanda SAPS.
He returned to Phoenix SAPS as a lieutenant and he was then appointed second in command at Greenwood Park SAPS.
Singh was later promoted to a strategist at the strategic planning section of the KZN provincial police headquarters before retiring on March 31.
The father of a daughter, Singh has a diploma in police administration and a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration. He said two incidents stood out for him during his career.
“I was stationed at the Greenwood Park SAPS, working as a van driver attending to complaints.
“One Sunday afternoon, a lady and her young daughter entered the charge office with information that the person who raped the girl was admitted at the Addington Hospital for a gunshot wound.
“I took the complainant, together with the mother, to the hospital. After making extensive inquiries at the out-patient department, I managed to trace the suspect, who was positively identified by the complainant. I later led evidence at the trial, which led to the suspect receiving a harsh sentence.
“I was complimented by the magistrate, prosecutors and defence attorneys on the excellent manner in which I led evidence.
“My evidence was one that created a good image of the police. The most touching moment was the gratefulness of the mother and daughter as I ensured the rapist was brought to book. It is important to go out of one’s way to ensure that we help people in their time of need.”
In the second incident, he helped a woman give birth while he was stationed at the
“... This story made local news and I was commended by my superiors for my medical ability ... In some instances, there is no time to consult medical journals or law books. You need to roll up your sleeves and act in the interest of all concerned.”
Singh also wrote about his challenges in the SAPS, which included the lack of promotions.
“I held the rank of lieutenant-colonel for 22 years until my retirement. Upward mobility evaded me in terms of meeting equity targets within the SAPS ... This was the final straw to apply for early retirement as I was going nowhere fast."
He said the book was aimed at showing gratitude and imparting advice.
“I am giving thanks to the Almighty for His protection and guidance upon me throughout these years as no adverse incidents came upon me. It is also my way of imparting to my readers some sound words of advice, which may help them to improve themselves in life, using my stories ... ”
The avid reader said he intended writing more books.
“I will focus on the development and self-motivation of people, especially youngsters who desperately want to progress and prosper.
“I would like to see people aspire to reach a life of fulfillment ...”
He is married to Nisha, a retired nursing sister. Their daughter Seonaid, 24, is a medical student.
Singh distributed 250 copies of the self-published book at no cost during the launch at City Lodge and is in the process of printing more copies.
It will be on sale at selected bookstores.
For information on the book, Singh can be contacted at 083 235 3176.