Teach­ing self-de­fence and sur­vival

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HOLD­ING de­fence classes in his pri­vate ca­pac­ity for over 30 years, a 59-year-old Dur­ban metro po­lice­man’s pas­sion to help oth­ers goes beyond the call of duty.

Cap­tain Robby Ma­habeer from Ash­erville is the founder of the COPS Com­bat Academy and vis­its lo­cal schools on a reg­u­lar ba­sis to teach them how to de­fend them­selves in the face of danger.

Re­cently, he part­nered with the Ahmed Al-Kadi Pri­vate Hos­pi­tal for an ac­tion-packed pro­gramme at Bonela Pri­mary School.

While the hos­pi­tal’s emer­gency depart­ment staff spoke on chil­dren’s rights, Ma­habeer pro­vided demon­stra­tions on self de­fence and how to es­cape danger.

“Our nat­u­ral instinct is to freeze or run away when put in a dan­ger­ous sit­u­a­tion, but I want to help chil­dren to de­fend them­selves,” he said. “Un­for­tu­nately, we can­not be there to pro­tect them at all times and so they need to know how to pro­tect them­selves.”

He said his demon­stra­tions do not place em­pha­sis on or pro­mote vi­o­lence but to teach chil­dren how to es­cape.

“I show them var­i­ous tech­niques on how to es­cape from a hos­tile sit­u­a­tion and how to dis­arm a knife and firearm. To es­cape from their at­tacker is good enough.”

He also ed­u­cated the chil­dren on their rights in re­la­tion to crime and ex­plained the con­sti­tu­tion ap­pli­ca­ble to them, which in­cluded equal­ity, hu­man dig­nity and the right to free­dom from vi­o­lence. He also ad­dressed the chil­dren on anti-bul­ly­ing.

Ma­habeer said he aimed to cre­ate self-de­fence aware­ness na­tion­ally.

“Some chil­dren don’t al­ways have as­sis­tance and will have to fend for them­selves. South Africa is rid­dled with crime and peo­ple are mi­cro­cosms of war. We are in a se­ri­ous state of crisis. I want to em­power as many civil­ians as pos­si­ble to de­fend them­selves.”

But the art, he said, lies in know­ing how to im­part the knowl­edge to them.

“You have to come in with a pas­sive and tact­ful tech­nique.”

Speak­ing on the sense­less death of lit­tle Sa­dia Sukhraj, he said it was un­for­tu­nate that life had to be lost for the com­mu­nity to “catch a wake up”.

“It’s sad that we are all at risk from danger at any given time. How­ever, we are so tact­fully lazy and com­pla­cent to learn self de­fence.”

Ma­habeer said peo­ple are be­com­ing im­mune to crime and some­thing sub­stan­tial needs to be done.

He added that an av­er­age 10% of peo­ple come to him af­ter he teaches his classes with in­ter­est.

“We can eas­ily fight this bat­tle; if we can just up our abil­ity by 5% to awaken our skills, it would make a world of change.”

Ma­habeer has sur­vived in­nu­mer­able near death sit­u­a­tions. He has led many of the force’s units in­clud­ing the Dog Unit, Crime Pre­ven­tion Unit, Pa­trol Unit, and Train­ing Academy.

On an in­ter­na­tional plat­form, he has been trained by the US govern­ment, specif­i­cally the FBI, DEA (Drug En­force­ment Agency), USSS (United States Se­cu­rity Ser­vices), and ATF (Al­co­hol, To­bacco, Firearms and Ex­plo­sives). Na­tion­ally he has been trained in SWAT by the South African Po­lice Ser­vices.

He is cur­rently the charge of­fice com­man­der at metro po­lice.

He said he de­cided to start the COPS Com­bat Academy to end vic­tim­i­sa­tion through crime by equip­ping civil­ians with ba­sic skills and strate­gies.

“Our pur­pose is to teach sur­vival. Plain and sim­ple.”

PICTURE: SUP­PLIED

Metro Cap­tain Robby Ma­habeer, left, teaches stu­dents how to es­cape from a hos­tile sit­u­a­tion.

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