From the Wrong Side of the Tracks...CHAPTER 19 | Transfer to George

I enjoyed my career at SANAB. I wanted a promotion, wrote exams which I passed and was promoted to a warrant officer. I also got married a year or two earlier and everything was good, but now problems started brewing. Problems with the in-laws and my brothers- in-law.

The one brother-in-law had a drug problem. I arrested him twice before for possession of cannabis, charged him and locked him up. The other brother-in-law loved drinking at pubs and hotels and then, when under the influence of alcohol, he enjoyed picking fights. Once the police arrived at the premises where he was causing trouble, he was quick to inform them I was his brother-in-law. I was known in East London and most of the policemen would contact me, asking me to fetch him before they locked him up. In the beginning I appreciated it, but it steadily became worse and I got calls late at night and early mornings. Eventually I got fed-up and stopped helping him. I said they should go ahead and just lock him up, which they did.

It was also interfering with my work as some weekend- or Friday nights I would be on duty busy with a drug bust or surveillance when I would get called over the police radio informing me about my brother-in-law caused a disturbance or was fighting at some hotel or pub. And I was then asked to go to the police station where they took him, and sort it out. At the home, things were also tense, and these additional situations were putting more strain on the marriage.

This brawling brother-in-law worked for a cash in Transit Company. I knew his boss as we grew up together and we also boxed together at the same club as kids. One night whilst working, I received a call over the police radio asking me to call a certain number urgently. I called the number, and it was the boss of my brother-in-law. He informed me that my brother-in-law left work with the company’s cash in transit vehicle and that he was drinking at a certain address. He was concerned that my brother-in-law would cause an accident whilst under the influence.

I truly had enough. I drove to the address and found my brother-in-law, together with about six of his work colleagues. The company vehicle was also parked at this address. I approached my brother-in-law and told him to get into my police vehicle so I could take him home. He challenged me in front of his friends and threatened to hurt me. By now I was boiling. I have had enough of his shit. I punched him, picked him up from the ground, and carried him to the police vehicle. I opened the boot and threw him in. I dropped him off at his girlfriend’s place where he was living at the time. The next day I heard he was in hospital. They had to wire his jaw together as it was broken in a few places. He drank soup through a straw for a few weeks. I could not say that I felt any concern.

To save my marriage, I decided to ask for a transfer. It would allow me to get away from the in-laws. I discussed it with my commander and he agreed. I was offered a post at SANAB George. At the end of 1991, I moved from East London to George. I was sad, but I wanted to save my marriage.


After a few weeks in George, I knew my new commander and I were not going to see eye to eye. The SANAB East London branch working method and the SANAB George method were light years apart. I discovered that the whole of George, not only the policemen but also the civilians, to be one big clique. If you were not born in George, they froze you out. I realised I was never going to fit in.

I was not happy in George. But things were about to change. A good friend of mine and also a SANAB member, arrived from Port Elizabeth. He was the new second in charge at SANAB George. When I was stationed at the East London SANAB branch, we often worked in Port Elizabeth with the SANAB branch. We had the same methods, not the shit that was happening at George SANAB branch.

The new second-in-command friend of mine was also a boxer in his young days. He was a good boxer, and he fought out of Port Elizabeth, the (EP) Eastern Cape, as it is still known today, division. At least now I had an ally and the two of us worked the way we did in the Eastern Cape, and with good results, to the dismay of the local Commander.

George was a very conservative town (well, it pretended to be) as I have seen many cheating husbands and wives during my time there. The divorce rate in George was at one stage the highest in South Africa.

George, being extremely conservative, did not allow any escort or call girl establishments to open in their town. The shops even banned the sale of any pornographic magazines. One morning in a meeting, I overheard the Commander talking with one of the members. He said that an escort agency in Cape Town was focusing on George and that they wanted to open a club in George. The Commander said over his dead body, will that happen and that they will have to get past him first.

About two weeks later, I was walking past the Commander’s office and I heard the phone ringing. He was not in his office, so I took the call. The caller was the Owner of the Escort agency in Cape Town that wanted to open a club in George. He thought he was talking with the Commander and said that he would like to come down from Cape Town and meet with him to discuss this new attraction for the men of George. I played along and said that such an establishment was long overdue. I promised him I, as the Commander, would personally see to it that he gets all the assistance necessary and that I’ll be speaking with the right people and also support all the applications. The owner of the club was ecstatic, and we agreed on a date for a meeting in George.

I later overheard a conversation between the Commander and someone about this mad escort agency owner coming all the way from Cape Town, telling everybody that the Commander of SANAB invited him and said that he will support his application. He had to do a lot of explanation to the Town council and the Afrikaans church to convince them he never invited this escort club owner to come to George. I, of course, had my own reasons for putting him on the spot. Let’s just say I helped along karma a little.

Back at the home front in my personal life, things were not looking up either. After trying to conceive for two years, I told my wife that she should go for a checkup as there must be something wrong with her. She did, and the doctor told her that there was nothing wrong with her and that it was my turn to go for some tests. Her doctor referred me to an urologist. I went through all the tests and anxiously waited for the results.

The doctor called and said that he wanted to see me. I went, and he told me I could never have kids. I questioned him about his findings. He was uncertain, but gave a few reasons. When he heard that boxing and rugby were my main sports in which I had participated, he said that a sports injury could also be the cause.

For a while, I was upset. I told my wife about it and we accepted it. A few weeks later, she told me she was not happy in George and that she was missing her family too much. She told me she was moving back to East London. She left, and I stayed. We separated and got a divorce some time thereafter.

The George Narcotics Branch had a vast area to cover. The furthest point which we had to attend to regarding narcotic related cases, were Beaufort West. 250 km from George. The place my partner and I liked to operate in and made many arrests, was Knysna. A nice coastal town between Plettenberg Bay and George. Knysna was and still is a hotbed for drugs to this day.

Knysna is also known for its big population of Rastafarians living in an area just outside the town. The Rastafarians believe dagga is a herb and that it was placed on earth by God to be smoked and their argument that it should be legalized was the cause of them being often visited and arrested by us. Whenever we visited Knysna, we would drive into the Rastafarian village and we always made a few arrests when we found them in possession of drugs. Every time we ended up in a fight and had to use the necessary force to make an arrest as the Rastas did not come quietly, they always put up a fight. The peaceful nature of the Rastafarians is just a myth.

We had information on one specific Rasta that was supposed to be the big mandrax dealer in that area. We arrested him twice before for possession of dagga, but we could never find mandrax in his possession.

Our luck changed one day when an informer told us that when he was arrested for a minor offence and was detained at the Knysna police cells, he met our man, the Rasta mandrax dealer, in the police cells. They started talking, and the Rasta was boasting about how he always has mandrax on him and that the Drug Squad could never find it even when they searched him. To prove to the inmates in the cell, he removed about forty mandrax tablets from one of his dreadlocks and showed it to them. About a month later, while driving down the main street in Knysna, we spotted him walking. My partner jumped out of the vehicle and grabbed him. We took him to the police vehicle. He made his usual scene, shouting and cursing at us. We started searching him and when my partner started feeling his dreadlocks. The Rasta became quiet. I saw a smile on my partner’s face. He winked at me, and I knew we had him. Hidden in one of the dreadlocks, my partner found twenty-eight mandrax tablets. We charged him and he received a stiff jail sentenced for possession of mandrax. His previous convictions for possession of dagga added to his sentence.

A few weeks later we heard that the Knysna Rastafarians were going to have a march down Knysna’s main street demanding the legalization of the ‘weed of wisdom’ – their name for dagga. We did not want to miss it, so my partner and I took a drive to Knysna to witness the march. The Knysna police station was, and still is, situated on the main street. We stood in front of the station, looking at the marchers as they passed the police station. There were about three hundred Rastafarians taking part in the march. Some of them openly smoked dagga, and when they recognized us, they swore at us, calling us names. The two of us were outnumbered, so trying to arrest the smokers in that crowd would have caused a riot. We made mental notes of those who were smoking as well as the ones abusing us. We were surprised to see some of the Rastafarian’s carrying signs that had me and my partner’s ranks and surnames written on it. They demanded that the police should fire us for victimizing them. We were pleased to see the signs, confirming we were a thorn in their sides.

One night, a few weeks later, my partner and I were parked close to the entrance and exit of the road leading into the Rastafarian village. We were waiting for a white drug dealer. We had information that he would be coming out of the village with drugs he was supposed to have bought there. Whilst in surveillance mode, I noticed a vehicle with a Gauteng (Johannesburg) registration plate turning into the village. The vehicle appeared very suspicious, and we pulled it over. The driver and his passenger were both Nigerians. We searched them and the vehicle and we found a few bags with mandrax tablets hidden underneath the back seat of the vehicle. We arrested them and took them to our office where the mandrax tablets were counted. The amount of the tablets totaled three thousand three hundred.

Amoure Kleu Author, Andre Els Chapter 19, From the wrong side of the tracks, SANB, Transfer to George

Another huge knock for the Rastafarian drug dealers, as this shipment was destined for delivery to them.

Amoure Kleu Author, Andre Els Chapter 19, From the wrong side of the tracks, SANB, Transfer to George

Image by Stefan Keller from Pixabay

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