Goodbye to Goodwood’s ‘Iron Lady’

Goodwood’s loss is Cape Town Central’s gain. Station commander Hansia Hansraj has been promoted to Brigadier and took over the reins at the inner city station on Monday November 21. Brigadier Hansraj, then known by her maiden name Asaram, with the rank of Senior Superintendent, was appointed station commander at Goodwood in April 2009 (“New Sup has community at heart,” Tygertalk, April 15, 2009).

She told us then that she had the same passion for her job as when she had been a 17-year-old recruit in Stanger, in KwaZulu-Natal. Her words then were: “It’s about being an honest cop, basically, and looking at service delivery to the community”.

Brigadier Hansraj stuck to her word, and later exposed an allegedly corrupt relationship between a Goodwood businessman, Salim Dawjee, his son, Zamir, and several high-ranking cops, including then provincial commissioner Arno Lamoer.

Other officers implicated are former station commander of Parow and Cape Town Central Brigadier Kolindhren “Colin” Govender and his wife, Sharon, who is a former Bellville station commander. Also involved is Darius van der Ross, the then Stellenbosch cluster commander.

They face 109 charges of racketeering, corruption, fraud, contravention of the Firearms Control Act. Speaking to a handful of people at the Goodwood Community Police Forum (CPF) annual general meeting on Thursday November 17, Brigadier Hansraj, who lives in De Tyger, said she was still in shock, after a call from provincial commissioner Lieutenant General Khombinkosi Jula two days earlier to announce her promotion.

She said she was ready for the new challenge at Cape Town Central, with its 550 staff, compared to Goodwood’s 150.

Brigadier Hansraj said she was leaving Goodwood in good hands, with the officers on “a narrow path and in line”.

She said she had taken over at a time when a cloud had been hanging over Goodwood because of corruption.

Former station commander Siphiwo Hewana was in court at the time on a charge of defeating the ends of justice, relating to a 2007 drunk driving case involving ANC stalwart Tony Yengeni.

He had ordered his subordinates to tamper with evidence, but this later came to light and he was found guilty and dismissed (“Hewana guilty of Yengeni evidence tampering,” Tygertalk, December 2, 2009).

Brigadier Hansraj paid tribute to the team at Goodwood, saying they had worked hard, and the station’s crime statistics had been on a steady decrease.

“I’m not worried about who takes over. I feel confident. There is nothing missing, I have nothing to fear,” she said.

However, she said, the dynamics of the suburb had changed.

“What we could not do is put vagrants on a bus and move them to another province. I’m here to fight crime. We have to act within the law,” she said, referring to residents’ irritation with vagrancy.

She also referred to the “trials and tribulations” she had had to endure with the Lamoer corruption case, but said: “I overcame that. Those individuals will face the full brunt of the law,” she said.

Brigadier Hansraj has not yet testified in the trial, but she told Northern News after the meeting that she was “ready”.

CPF chairperson Lee Jepson said the move was “a sad loss for Goodwood”.

Deputy chairperson Maurisha Nieuwenhuys called her the “Iron Lady”, with a heart for people.

“You stand up for what is right. You don’t turn a blind eye. That takes character and strength,” Ms Nieuwenhuys said.

Fighting corruption runs like a thread in Brigadier Hansraj’s career, as even her Twitter feed shows.

In December last year, she retweeted former public protector Thuli Madonsela’s tweet on International Anti-Corruption Day. It read: “We commit ourselves to break the chain of corruption wherever we are.”

* Colonel Hennie Rademeyer will act as station commander until a permanent appointment is made.