A life of service

Bala Naidoo in his police uniform before he could retire. PHOTO: supplied
Bala Naidoo in his police uniform before he could retire. PHOTO: supplied

FORMER brigadier and member of the exclusive Criminal Record Centre, formerly known as the Local Fingerprint Office, retired policeman Bala Naidoo sat down with the Maritzburg Fever recently to reminisce about his illustrious career and life after being a policeman.

With a career spanning over 42 years, and having received over 12 medals and decorations during his career, the now Pietermaritzburg-based Naidoo retired in 2010 after having worked in Pietermaritzburg, Pretoria, and Durban.

Having started his career back in 1970, Naidoo says that a lot of things have changed since he was an officer, with some changes being for the better and some for the worse.

“It was difficult back in those days in terms of jobs because we were restricted to certain positions but, in all honesty, crime was a lot less back in those days. I guess you can accredit the crime increase to more people moving to the urban areas but also the service by the police back then was a lot better,” said Naidoo.

Naidoo says that when he and his colleagues were active officers, there was no such thing as overtime and that the extra work they did was for the community.

“We worked together and put a lot of criminals away. The best part about the work we did was when the family we would help at the crime scene would thank us for helping them in their time of need,” said Naidoo.

After retiring, Naidoo established the Retired Officer’s Club in Pietermaritzburg and is the club’s first chairperson. He also established the club in Durban where he was also nominated as the chairperson.

“Throughout my career I have come across a lot of peculiar cases, such as one where an insurance consultant used the fingerprints of a client to access their full claims through photocopying their prints. Back then there were no computers to help identifying varying fingerprints so we had to analyse and find that the fingerprints were copied and not original,” said Naidoo, who added that he missed his colleagues the most after retirement.

With the job being a stressful one, Naidoo took up fishing once he retired and also established a business but now he finds himself helping his son renovate his house while also spending as much time as possible with his family and friends.

“The career of a policeman does not always promise a long life and I am happy that I get to be with my family and friends a lot more now,” said Naidoo.

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