New Tshwane police chief’s broom sweeps clean

Henry

By Terésa Coetzee

Getting a coffee date with the brand new head of the Tshwane Metropolitan Police Service (TMPD), Yolande Faro, is no easy task. Those who work with her say it is because she is not afraid to work outside in the field where all the action is. Since her appointment on 1 October 2023, many things have already changed in Tshwane’s Metropolitan Police Department and it is clear that Faro does not take nonsense. She speaks fluent Afrikaans and says a thing exactly as it is.

We meet early one weekday morning before work at TMPD headquarters and from the outset I am warned that “Commissioner Faro” really only has 15 minutes to speak with me. Just 15 minutes… and I have to choose my questions wisely.

Fortunately, one notices that “commissioner Faro” as with everything else in her life, gets a lot done in a short time. She even says that she only sleeps between two and three hours at night, but that this gives her more than enough time to start each day completely rested.

“We knew from the outset that Faro was the right person for this position,” says Grandi Theunissen, mayoral committee member for community safety in Tshwane. “She is honest, not at all afraid to work hard and a very strong leader.”

Police work has always been in Faro’s blood, even at school she was very disciplined and since she started working at the Cape Traffic Department after school, she knew she had found her calling.

“All my life I have had a strong sense of law and justice and for me it has always come naturally to do law enforcement,” she says. “Already from a young age, I saw that people complain very easily, but are not prepared to jump in and do something about their situation themselves. I wanted to be different, roll up my sleeves and make a difference myself.”

When the opportunity presented itself to come to Pretoria last year, Faro grabbed it with both hands. She was formerly deputy chief of the Cape Town Metropolitan Police and then the Metropolitan Police Chief of Nelson Mandela Bay in the Eastern Cape. She in fact set up the Metropolitan Police Department in the Bay, as it was initially registered but not functional.

“Although I’m actually a Capetian to the core, I wasn’t at all afraid of the change here in Tshwane. I look forward and when I take on something, I go for it. I believe the Lord brought this task my way and I am here because He willed it that way,” she says.

Being the head of the TMPD is a job you cannot take on without passion, she emphasizes.

“Trust me, I’m not doing it for the money. This job has no hours, your family time is short, you can’t switch off and you are peppered with criticism and complaints on a daily basis. I have even received death threats. I don’t do the work because I want to feel popular and loved. I take my job very seriously and I’m here to make a difference,” she says.

According to her, being a law enforcement officer is a thankless job. “I almost get scared when people thank me, because it really happens very rarely. But fortunately I have also been in the profession long enough not to expect it, I know we are here to provide a service,” she says.

In December, Faro was often seen at night at roadblocks where she worked with her people.

Since Faro took up the position as head of TMPD on October 1st, she was often seen during the day, at night and even in the early hours of the morning at roadblocks, an orphanage and herself at holiday resorts, where she worked with her people and with the public interacted.

“We have had many successful actions and I am satisfied with my people, because we have done very important crime prevention. The public is not always aware of everything that the TMPD does and this is why communication at all levels is so important.

“I believe that eventually our work must begin to have a ripple effect.”

According to Faro, the biggest problem in Tshwane is currently the cable theft that the TMPD is confronted with on a daily basis, especially in Pretoria North.

“Just last week we arrested a cable thief who stole a cable worth R4.7 million. We now have a unit that looks specifically at this and they make weekly arrests.”

Faro says she is fully aware of the stigma attached to the TMPD due to corrupt members who extort money from motorists.

“I am not naive at all. But I want to appeal to members of the public not to pay bribes. Corruption and bribery always involve two parties and as long as people pay bribes, corruption will continue to exist. During the past festive season, we especially saw people driving drunk and then automatically taking cash with them in case they might be pulled over and tested. We arrested people who tried to bribe the officers and I promise this will happen more and more from now on.”

She also makes no secret of the fact that she has no mercy on corrupt police officers.

“If I catch a corrupt police officer, it’s over with him. The message is loud and clear.”

A total of 14 metropolitan police officers have already been charged since Faro’s appointment following an incident on the N1 in the Hammanskraal area.

Her colleagues also know that she is not a scared woman at all; on the contrary, she is usually the one who scares people. At this statement she spontaneously laughs.

“I think it’s my faith that gives me courage. I firmly believe that the Lord has determined a day on which you will be born, and a day on which you will die. Nothing will come my way without his will and if it has to be that I die while doing my job, then I am calm about it,” she says.

“I am very religious, I could not do this work without God. I am ready for 2024 and what may come my way, and I believe we will make Tshwane a better, safer city.”