TONGA – Colonel Johan Truter, who was the Tonga Cluster support head, was completely taken by surprise when he walked into Sivutsa Lodge’s conference hall last Thursday to find it full of his colleagues.
The Colonel was officially bid farewell with a special black tie function, when he retired last week after more than 40 years of service in the SAPS.
Attendees included the Cluster commander Maj Gen Dorah Xaba, station commanders and representatives from the border posts and local units.
The group presented Truter with a framed photo of himself with some of his colleagues and a shopping voucher. Madala, as the group calls him, was very emotional at this unexpected gift.
Xaba stated that the colonel left a void in her cluster, thanking him for his commitment, dedication and contributions to SAPS. She also wished him long life.
Truter joined the police service in 1977 at the age of 18 in Sasolburg in the Free State. Six months later he was transferred to Arlington and worked there until he went back to Sasolburg in 1982.
He was appointed the station commander of White River SAPS from 1988 to 1998. Truter was then transferred to KaBokweni, becoming one of the first white station commanders in the traditionally “black” area.
In October 2011 he was appointed the support head for the Tonga Cluster. Here he headed support services for the police stations in Matsulu, Low’s Creek, Kaapmuiden, Malalane, Schoemansdal, KaMhlushwa, Tonga, Mbuzini and Komatipoort until his retirement last week.
In his 40 years and six months as an SAPS officer, he saw many changes and the transformation of the police service.
Truter said one of the best things about his job was seeing people grow. Several of his “children” are now detectives, station commanders or among the higher ranks of the SAPS.
He also mentioned that it was great to play a role in improving stations’ operations and getting the new KaMhlushwa Police Station off the ground. “I worked with good people and enjoyed my work,” he said.
The retired officer stated that one of the biggest challenges in his career in Nkomazi was communication. “If the lines were down between us and Mbombela, we struggled,” he said. “Luckily it got better when we got 3G.”
Another challenge was convincing the men under his command that “this umlungu isn’t so bad”. His colleagues were very sad to see him retire and he said several have contacted him on Facebook since.
Now, his first plans are to fix up his house in White River and catch up with everything he did not have time for. “Then I’m hoping to help others with DIY work, like the elderly who aren’t able to do such work any longer.” He’ll also be enjoying more time with his wife, two children and grandchild.