From the Wrong Side of the Tracks...CHAPTER 12 | 1982 Reaction Unit -Riot Squad

On my return from Border Duty to East London, I accepted a transfer from the uniform branch and became a member of the Reaction Unit. Later it was renamed – Riot Squad. It was an elite unit. There were only about twelve members in the Reaction Unit. We received a lot of specialized training in SWAT procedures. The Police task force, which was based in Pretoria, provided even more training.

Our duties included everything the Police task force did, except parachuting. Our primary task was to combat urban terrorism. Later on, after I had been with the Unit for a while, we had to do extra riot courses and Crowd Control courses.

Our Colonel in charge of our unit was a small elderly man. He wore a camouflage beret. Small as he was, he was tough as nails. He reminded me of Sylvester Stallone, the mini version. He had the same facial features as Sylvester Stallone. We were his boys. Being a rather rough bunch, there were some incidents that did not go down too well with the local cops. Whenever such an incident occurred, and we found ourselves in ‘hot water’, our Colonel stood up for his boys as he used to call us.

Before going out on what we knew as classified and perilous operations, a police chaplain would come to the base we were operating from, and say a prayer. I will never forget our Colonel’s favourite saying at such times.

‘Come here, boys, the sky pilot is here, and he wants to say a few words.’

During that stage of my career, 1982 and thereafter, the Special Task Force and the Reaction Units were the only police units allowed to wear camouflage uniforms outside the operational areas (Borders). Later on, the Riot squads in the country were granted the same privilege.

We took genuine pride in our uniform. Back then, in those years, it was difficult to become part of one of these units.

I will always look back on this part of my career with some pride.

Amoure Kleu Author, Andre Els Chapter 12, From the wrong side of the tracks, Riot Unit, Reaction Squad

Image by zeferli from depositphotos

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