Helping people is in his DNA
Bongani Siyona is the People’s Choice
Recognised as one of SA’s best public servants, Nelson Mandela Bay W/O Bongani Siyona attributed his award to his father, from whom he said he had inherited his giving nature.
Siyona received the accolade at the Accountability Lab SA’s annual Integrity Icon Awards in Johannesburg on November 4. The awards recognise the most exemplary civil servants in SA.
Siyona, 50, from KwaDwesi, who works at the Kwazakele police station, walked away with the People’s Choice Award, with 325 votes standing between him and the runner-up. Winning the People’s Choice Award resulted in him being selected as the Accountability Lab ambassador for 2022/2023.
Siyona said he believed he had received his father’s DNA to help his fellow citizens.
He had grown up watching his father help others and this had influenced him to go beyond the call of duty as a police officer.
In 2020, during the Covid-19 pandemic, he started a community patrol group of about 200 people from the area to help fight the rise in crime.
“However, I noticed the patrollers had a lot of challenges themselves because of poverty and unemployment, so I partnered with Ubuntu Pathways in Zwide and we donated about 200 food parcels to them worth R1,000.
“That was during the hard lockdown, when people who were not essential workers were not allowed to leave their homes.
“We also donated about 200 food parcels to the community of Izinyoka,” Siyona said.
He partnered with community activist Devon Harrison in to help provide motorcycles for the patrollers.
They also helped four youths obtain their learner’s licences.
Now, he said, some of them were working as delivery drivers.
“Crime is a societal issue,” Siyona said.
“It comes from poverty, the use of drugs and unemployment.
“So, when you are a police officer, you should not just be quick to arrest people, you must be educational too.
“Try to partner with people who can help create job opportunities.”
Working outside the scope of being a police officer, he also partnered with Men for Change and Silver Solutions Security.
This saw struggling families find employment as security guards.
His proudest moment, how2021 ever, was in 2019, when the SA Police Service teamed up with Old Mutual to build a house for an elderly woman living with her grandchildren in a shack.
He was one of the pioneers who helped furnish the house as a member of Men for Change.
“In the police code of conduct there is a line that says ‘with integrity render a responsible, effective service to the highest standard, to the accessibility of every person’,” Siyona said, explaining that this was what he lived up to.
“My father had the same genes as me, I carry his character.
“He was a helpful person, with sympathy.
“When I received this award I thought of him,” he said.
“He had imparted that in me.”
The Herald Nelson Mandela University Citizens of the Year 2022 gender-based violence award category winner and founder of nonprofit organisation TWYST Foundation (Transforming Women Youth In Social Trends), Ntombozuko Jafta, had nominated Siyona.
“Siyona deserved to win,” Jafta said.