A hell of an experience

2009-10-03 00:00

THE African Union’s creation of a rapid intervention force to boost peacekeeping efforts in the SADC region and the continent presented a rare opportunity for two eager Pietermaritzburg police officers to join the brigade.

Inspector Thinus Joubert and Inspector Karel Nelson of the Plessislaer police station’s mounted unit recently spent weeks in gruelling training, participating in an exercise to test the SADC force’s abilities to conduct a peacekeeping mission in accordance with the requirements set out for the AU Standby Force.

Dubbed Golfhino, the peace support operation was held in the Northern Cape at the SA Army Combat Training Centre at Lohatla in September.

“Golfinho is a Portugese word for dolphin, chosen because the dolphin is a mammal that comes to others’ aid, which is the purpose of the brigade,” said Nelson.

“It was one hell of an experience. I thought I was volunteering for a cosy job, but I got a shock of my life. It was a real war-zone scenario. We had to eat out of cans, sleep on a stretcher and live out of our bags,” said Joubert.

Nelson said the training simulated a conflict in an imaginary country where the SADC brigade was deployed to restore peace.

“The army moves in to stabilise the situation and then the police come in to do normal policing,” he said “We patrolled between 700 to 800 kilometres within a 15-hour shift, from 7 am to 1 am the next morning,” added Joubert. Both officers agreed that their “biggest challenge during the exercise was the language barrier”.

Joubert and Nelson agreed that being part of such an important mission was a privilege. “I joined the police force because I like to serve and protect vulnerable people, and being part of the standby brigade is an extension of my services to the whole continent,” said Joubert.

Police officers who are members of the SADC force wear the SA flag on their uniform. The SADC troops will be part of a larger African force. “SADC is the first region that has its troops ready and it is the first time the continent has had a force ready for rapid deployment in peacekeeping, humanitarian and natural disaster-relief efforts throughout Africa”.

Nelson and Joubert served in the Darfur, Sudan, peacekeeping mission for six months in 2005 and 2006 respectively, and that experience helped them to qualify for the SADC standby brigade. Another KZN police officer selected is Minky Botha.

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.