Growing up with no shoes on your feet and not knowing where your next meal is coming from are things Athlone’s new police chief, Colonel Junaid Alcock, can relate to, and he says he is ready to help those facing similar struggles.
Colonel Alcock, 57, took over his new post on Monday November 13, after heading Table View police station for 11 months.
One of ten children, he says he grew up in Netreg, and then Bonteheuwel, knowing he wanted to be a policeman. He was 22 when he started work at Athlone police station in 1989. He reported for duty in a suit and tie, brimming with enthusiasm, he recalls. But he was given a cloth and a tin of polish and tasked with cleaning doorknobs. He felt humiliated, but he says he finished the job and gained the respect of his colleagues and superiors.
Over the years, he moved up the ranks at the station and became a captain in 2000, a position he held for 19 years.
Good role models pushed him to go further in his career and always motivated him to work hard, he says. “I knew that I had to look after my name and what I did in the police force.”
In 2019, he was appointed acting station commander at Lingelethu police station and two years later, he was made station commander at Harare police station. He took over at Table View in December last year.
“The journey back here was a dream that came true,” he says of his return to Athlone. “I know the history of Athlone, the dynamics of the streets.
“When I came back last Friday, I saw so many familiar faces. I said to them that discipline is key and it starts with your dress code.”
He says a good leader leads by example and communication is the key to success.
“If I am doing something that the community feels can be done in a different way, they must be able to tell me that. In that way, we can find solutions. A station commander’s role is a lonely place, but the key is to never burn your bridges.”
He only got his first pair of shoes in high school, but it was that deprivation that pushed him to make something of his life, he says.
“Because I did not have, I love to give away and help people. Putting shoes on my feet humbles me and makes me proud of what I’ve achieved. To give back is heart-warming.
“I want to tell the community that we will strive to tell the truth and get the best solutions for any problems they have.”
Athlone Community Police Forum spokeswoman Pat O’Connor said they were pleased the new station commander knew the area, and she encouraged the public to report crime.
The CPF wanted to see better service from the police and more patrols during the festive season, she said, adding that the public battled to contact the station during load shedding.
“The CPF hopes that our working relationship with the station commander will be a good one,” she said.