After 31 years at the Athlone police station, Emmerentia Meyer, 64, from Westridge better known as “aunty Emmy”, retires as administrator in June this year.
She is known as a mother figure to most of the staff at the station who love her for her brutal honesty and caring heart. They know “aunty Emmy”as a no-nonsense person but the one with the biggest heart.
She is married, has three children and five grandchildren. She described herself as a jovial yet strict and fun mom who adjusts to any situation. Ms Meyer is a people’s person, she loves working with people which is one of the reasons she chose a career in the police force, she said.
Ms Meyer started at the station in 1990 as a “tea girl” for three years and then became the telecommunications operator and administrator – a job she has held until now.
Her duties included helping detectives file their admin, firearm bookings and files, court dockets, registers, she recorded fingerprints and later changed roles to answer phones and transferring calls to different extensions, calling the detectives and station heads, and handled community queries.
She said since 1990 she’s always had a good relationship with her colleagues and captains and always did the best that she could. What motivated her to stay in the field for so long is her love for the community and her passion to create change where needed.
Ms Meyer also worked in the trauma counselling room in 2004 as a counsellor. She described that as the most difficult time in her career.
“It was difficult to handle at times and other times it was okay. I had to remember that it was about the victim, not me. That is how I got involved with the community. The most daunting session I had which stuck with me is when a man came into the office for counselling. Women are quicker to get help but not men. He really got to me and it affected me. Recently he called me to let me know that he is okay and that was heart-warming,” she said.
Ms Meyer’s aim is to start a rehabilitation programme for men and boys who were abused – the community is in dire need of such a resource, she said.
“Men think of their egos, that is why they don’t get help but they have to realise that it is important to get help,” she said.
She is also the a block captain for the Lariat Block Watch in Westridge, Mitchell’s Plain.
She said what is urgently needed in the Athlone policing precinct are youth programmes to sway young boys from joining gangs and committing crimes.
“They are bored; the community needs to start something to get the youth together but it needs to be a daily programme so that it can make a difference. There are good youth but they are indoctrinated by each other – but they can be helped,” she stressed.
She wished the station the best and had this word of advice: “’My message to the station is that if they want to make Athlone a better station, do something about it, be proactive. There are lots of potential at the station, they must just be brave and strong enough to do something about it,” she said.
Ms Meyer said it will be difficult to leave the community as she walked the Athlone central business district every day. Every shop owner, street hawker, and resident knows aunty Emmy, she said.
She is known for eating a chocolate and a fizzy or “gas” cooldrink for breakfast and fish and chips for lunch.
“’I want to encourage the community to stand with the police, work with them and report any issues happening in the community,” she said.
Administration clerk, Nicolene Smith, who worked with Ms Meyer since 2004, said she is like a mother figure.
She said Ms Meyer often checked the staff on their manners, dress code, and conduct. “She will check you on anything that you do. She cares about you and you can speak to her about anything. She gives the best advice and she likes feeding everyone. She makes the best chicken curry,” Ms Smith shared.
“Enjoy your retirement,” Ms Smith said. “Don’t change, stay the wonderful person that you are. Enjoy your family time.”
Human resources clerk, Beverley de Vries met Ms Meyer in 2005 and described her as a mother to all at the station, who is dearly loved by many.
‘’ She knows everyone so well, each one of us,“ Ms De Vries said. “Enjoy yourself, you will be missed. We will still pop in at your house and we will miss the scolding and wisdom, and morning coffees.”