I’ve done my time

2016-03-01 10:50
Brigadier Riaan Booysen, commander of Wynberg police station, retired yesterday.

Brigadier Riaan Booysen, commander of Wynberg police station, retired yesterday. (TIYESE JERANJI)

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After spending 36 years in the police, Brigadier Riaan Booysen says it’s time to make way.
Booysen has been the commander of Wynberg police station for the past four years. He is taking early retirement, as he believes it’s time to give new blood the opportunity to lead.

He says it’s time to concentrate on other things, as he has done his work over the years.
Born in Philippi, he matriculated from Zwaanswyk High School in Retreat in 1978. He became a soldier and underwent military training at Kimberly Infantry School in Pretoria. Thereafter he worked in several departments, including the department of transport. That’s where he got a transfer to the police in 1983. He started his police career at Wynberg police station.
He was later transferred to Claremont where he became a detective in 1985.
Booysen says Wynberg holds a special place in his heart, because it’s where his career as a police officer took off and where it ended. He was also baptised at the Dutch Reformed Church which is a few metres away from the police station. He met his wife of 33 years, Judith, at the church.

Starting out as a young detective he was worried whether he would know the difference between murder and death due to a natural cause.
“I was wondering if I would be able to distinguish the two. Fortunately, I had the best trainers, very experienced people, and they made everything very easy. This was my dream. I was very excited, but the most exciting part of the job was walking out of the courtroom knowing you have secured a conviction. It gives a sense of fulfilment and being able to go back to the community and say this is what you can do,” he says.

As a detective Booysen has had an exciting career. He has worked on high-profile cases, like police killings, several Pagad murder cases and explosives cases, the Golden Arrow bus killings and the murder of Marike de Klerk, ex-wife of former president FW de Klerk. He also helped in the Sizzler murders case in Sea Point and worked on several armed robberies and rape cases in which international tourists were the victims.
He was the detective commander at police stations in Manenberg, Nyanga, Grassy Park, Gugulethu, Diep River and Athlone, where he had to deal with inquest and murder cases. He and his team dealt with 1600 murder and inquest cases from Khayelitsha, Gugulethu, Nyanga and Langa in a year.
He was also appointed as a police diver and had to recover several corpses and pieces of evidence.
In 2000 he became the provincial commander of serious and violent crimes, where he led units like urban terror, murder, robbery, gangs, taxi violence, firearms and the child protection unit.

In 2006 he was appointed the Woodstock cluster commander and later that year he took responsibility for the Cape Town cluster. He was also the station commander at Strand police station before heading back to Wynberg police station as its commander in 2012.
“There comes a point in your life where you feel you have done it all and there is nothing more to achieve. It’s now time to give the new generation an opportunity to take over. I leave the station happy because I know they are a good team who are always willing to help and serve the community,” he says.

Though he is a man of vast experience, he attributes all his success to teamwork.
“There are people who work tirelessly behind the scenes and they make work easy for you. Without them I wouldn’t have achieved the things I achieved. What is really important is to work as a team and a team is as strong as its weakest link. When someone is lagging behind things won’t work. With the cases that I worked with, chain evidence was vital, although one investigator would have to see a high-profile case through court. Having everyone on the same level was of utmost importance as you can’t do everything alone.”
Angie Latchman, Wynberg policing cluster spokesperson, says Booysen is known as a hands-on commanding officer who led by example.

“He has been a good mentor to all of us. Many look up to him for knowledge. He has great insight and he does things by the book; he is a disciplinarian. It’s sad that he is leaving us but with the same breath we wish him well. He has been with his family in blue for over three decades; now he has to spend time with his immediate family. Like they say, once a policeman always a policeman; he will be looking over us. We salute him for what he has done,” she says.
Riaan and Judith Booysen have two sons and two grandchildren.
Yesterday was his last day in the office. He says it’s time to focus on his business. From July he will practise in his own company, Riaan Booysen Polygraph and Private Investigation, where readers can contact him on 074 203 6658.

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