Meet a model major-general

2010-06-05 00:00

CRIMINALS and corrupt police officers should be warned: Parbathie Maharaj has vowed to hunt you down.

Maharaj was recently promoted to major-general in charge of Pietermaritzburg Cluster police stations. On June 1, she took up the challenging responsibility of being in charge of 13 police stations — Pietermaritzburg, Mountain Rise, Alexandra Road, Camperdown, Hilton, Town Hill, Prestbury, Cramond, Bishopstowe, Wartburg, Harburg, Dalton and New Hanover.

She said her style of management is hands-on: she works with her members on the ground. For instance, she personally caught three car thieves in Boom Street on May 30. Furthermore, management for her entails the assessment of service delivery standards, which, she said, she performs by “walkabout”.

She also enjoys being involved in community work.

Maharaj, whose name Parbathie means “enemy of the unjust”, joined the police as a clerk in 1980, enlisting for the SAP’s first intake of Indian women.

Her work inspired her to undergo training to become a police officer in 1982, and she began her career as a police officer at Sawoti police station, where she was a constable.On being promoted to sergeant, she worked at Dalton and then moved to New Hanover when she became a warrant officer.

She then reported to Mountain Rise on promotion to lieutenant, and after completing a commissioned officers’ course, was posted to Plessislaer. On promotion to colonel, she worked at the former Midlands Management Services and eventually reported to Pietermaritzburg station as a station commander in 1999.

She is the only Indian woman in the country who holds a position as major-general.

“Indeed, it is a message to other women that they can also achieve this, provided that they have the right mind set.”

She is also the first Indian woman to have graduated with a BA in policing science through the University of South Africa.

She practices the principle of “simple living, high thinking” and leads by example. In this way she has earned respect by following a mantra of “courtesy begets courtesy”.

Her daughter, Keshika Maharaj, is a qualified attorney and her son, Nemang, has a B Comm in accounting and is studying to become a chartered accountant.

When asked how she manages her career while being a mother, Maharaj said: “I have to strike a balance between my work and my family. I always give them equal priorities.”

Since 2008 she has been running Project Car (Children at Risk), which reunites children who live on the streets with their families and places them in a back-to-school programme.

She says she is a spiritual person, who spends her spare time meditating.

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