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The most recognisable white police officer in the township in Bela Bela, Warrant Officer Thomas Jacobus van Blerk – affectionately known as “Sayinyova” – was laid to rest last Friday 16 March.
Speaker after speaker testified that Van Blerk would be solemnly missed by his colleagues and the broader community, with particular reference to the local township.
The reference “sayinyova” was borrowed from a mid-1980s political chant, meaning the deliberate destruction of State property at the height of political unrest.
Bela-Bela SAPS head of detectives, Lieutenant-Colonel Abel Phetla paid a moving tribute to Van Blerk, who had joined the police force in 1982, holding the rank of a constable.
Phetla said the popular “Sayinyova” was promoted to the rank of sergeant in 1994.
The detective head said Van Blerk was a dedicated police officer who served the SAPS with aplomb.
Van Blerk was also popular for his master of a number of African languages.
With a career dating back to the Apartheid-era SAP, Van Blerk was also known, controversially so, for the dedicated pursuit of political activists of yesteryear such as the late Sam Makhubela.
But still township folk this week continued to talk in glowing terms about his unwavering commitment, and how he easily switched to work under the Democratic government of Nelson Mandela.
Phetla explained that at the height of his career as a member of the latter-day SAPS, the deceased was good at investigating high-profile cases such as murder and culpable homicide.
Bela-Bela SAPS station commissioner, Colonel Lindi Marx, added that Van Blerk was a hard-working officer, with a special kindness to his colleagues.
35 days ago 22 March 2018