Mitchell’s Plain and Strandfontein crime fighters are mourning the death of a unique police officer who served them for more than 30 years.
Captain Gordon Eugene October, 51, died at his home in Charlesville Matroosfontein on Saturday June 18.
Mitchell’s Plain Community police forum (CPF) chairman Norman Jantjes said Captain October had worked with many community members for extended periods, for some up to 17 years.
“They all described him as a friendly and helpful police officer. He was professional but still a people’s person.He was also supportive of community initiatives whilst also providing guidance to younger and less experienced colleagues,” he said.
Mr Jantjes said the CPF was shocked at his sudden death as they were planning to seek his guidance regarding complaints by community members about police service delivery.
“We as the Mitchell’s Plain community will miss him very much,” he said.
Community worker Beatrice Leng, from Tafelsig, said he always made her laugh.
“He was fondly known as ‘Okkie’,” she said.
Sandy Schuter Flowers, Strandfontein CPF chairperson, said Captain October served at Strandfontein SAPS as the acting station commander intermittently when the station commanders went on leave.
“He genuinely was the type of captain that led from the front.
“His passion for community’s safety was evident in the fashion he carried himself in the community. He always had an open door policy for us, as the community,” she said.
Ms Flowers said as a member of the CPF she saw first hand how easy it was to foster a working relationship with Captain October.
“He understood the needs of the community when we as the CPF addressed matters concerning our community, he made it his duty to take action and tried to improve services where there was a lack,” she said.
Captain October often worked odd hours to do crime prevention duties and stressed with all of his officers that he did not want anyone to be robbed at the bus stops in the morning or evening.
“He would stretch the little resources that the station had to do blue light patrols and if there wasn’t enough, he’d call me at 4am to say, chairperson! I’m on the road, where are you?”
She would then have to rally her executive, get dressed and meet him on the road to do bus stop patrols.
“We had an amazing working partnership. He wasn’t just a desk officer. He was the type of policeman that enjoyed being on the road with the community safety structures,” she said.
Ms Flowers said Captain October took pride in their awareness campaigns and was a firm believer in educating the community on their rights, raising awareness on gender-based violence, sexual assaults and property safety.
His silence at community meetings frustrated residents because he spoke very little.
“He was a listener but his delivery to the plight of the residents who raised their concerns, spoke volumes and that’s what makes Captain October unique.
“So he never believed in a lot of talking but he would prove it, by walking the walk.
“And that’s what our community liked about him, he delivered a sterling service to our community.
He was a gentle soul, spoke very little, but extremely friendly and funny, which made him so approachable,“ she said.
Ms Flowers said officers and administration staff at Strandfontein SAPS enjoyed working under his leadership because of the way he spoke and treated each and every person.
“Everyone felt valued and appreciated just by the way he was with everyone,” she said.
He was a policeman that treated all who came to him, with the utmost respect.
An officer expressed her thoughts of Captain October, saying that he was a man of integrity, a real people’s person and one of the most remarkable commanders that served at Strandfontein.
“As a resident, I will definitely miss Captain October, I will always remember him listening to me, especially when I came with a list of concerns from the community, to table with him, he always asked, don’t you rest? Come, sit. Have some tea.”
Ms Flowers would rattle off whatever she had received from residents and he would just sit, listen and take notes.
He would explain his plan of action and assured Ms Flowers that it would be addressed.
“I had confidence in Captain October and he delivered on his promises, always.
“He leaves a huge hole in the crime fighting family but as we would say: Salute Captain October, your watch is over, we have it from here. Until Valhalla,“ said Ms Flowers.
He became a police student in 1989, worked up the ranks, from Constable to becoming an inspector in 1996 and six-years later a captain.
The decorated Captain received various accolades for his 33-years-and-161 days of service, including a soccer world cup support 2010 medal in 2012 and a 30-year loyal service medal in 2019.
His colleague Captain Glen John Wagner, from Mitchell’s Plain police station, posted on Facebook: “What a sad day it is to hear that my colleague Capt October has passed on… Fly high brother in blue amongst the angels”.