Cape Town – A Winelands police officer stuck by his principle of serving others when he spotted a barefoot boy struggling in the heat at the weekend.
Warrant Officer Andries Douglas was on duty in Ceres on Sunday when he saw 12-year-old Jade running barefoot down the sweltering street "like a bolt of lightning".
Douglas, 45, who offers karate classes to children in rural areas, noticed he was carrying a block of cheese in the 40-degree heat.
He stopped and asked the youngster where he was running to. The boy replied: "Sensei [teacher], they told me to get home before the cheese melts!"
Without hesitation, Douglas told him to hop into the van and rushed the boy and his cheese to his home 1.2km away.
The officer told News24 on Monday that he had since helped get Jade a pair of takkies. The boy would start karate lessons soon.
"I work for the people of this country. If you want to help someone, the greatest gift you can give is your time," Douglas said.
He has been in the police force for 25 years. An encounter with a caring policeman as a child left a deep impression.
"In the old days, my mother and father used to fight a lot. Every weekend, a policeman visited the house to make sure everything was alright. If it wasn’t for him…"
He applied the same community policing principle in his own life.
"Officers should know about people in their community and each child in every street. You should know them by name."
With 37 years of martial arts training under his black belt, Douglas uses his own money and time to provide subsidised classes to the youth at his Academy of Discipline. The programme has helped children with self-discipline and control.
He and his instructors promote reading and awareness of substance abuse and domestic violence.
Not bothered by his early mornings and busy days, Douglas says he will "sleep when he is dead".