Retired Warrant Officer Anthony Colin Aubrey Appels lived the life of a policeman – disciplined, with integrity, respectful and stern, say those who knew him.
The former commander of Sector 5, which includes Colorado Park and Rondevlei, bordered by Jakes Gerwel Drive, Morgenster, Highlands and Weltevreden Parkway, died in hospital on Saturday August 1, a month after he retired.
He served his last day at Lentegeur police station on Tuesday June 30 and was admitted to hospital on Sunday July 19.
His wife Welma said it was sad that his retirement had been so short-lived because he had had so many plans.
“He was a selfless person. Many times I said to him he should retire. He gave the police his everything,” she said.
“He was a father, a grandfather, a husband, a brother, a friend, a mentor, a partner to the people he worked with.” And, she said, he did everything for her.
“That is why I find it difficult to do everything now. I expect him to come home and do it for me.”
Ms Appels said her family had received many messages and calls – “an outpouring of what he meant to people”.
Mark Brookes, the first Lentegeur community police forum (CPF) chairman, said Warrant Officer Appels was a real friend, who did not talk a lot but gave as much respect as he was given.
Warrant Officer Appels was born in Claremont but raised in George by his grandparents and then later by his mother.
He moved to Tafelsig in the 1980s, then to Mitchell’s Plain police station’s barracks, in Eastridge, for three years and moved into their family home in Westridge in 1985.
His youngest child, Janelle Appels, said her father did not smile very often with other people but with them he joked and pulled pranks.
“My dad would fix our cars or things around the house. He loved to tease and prank us. He would do the worst kind of pranks. He would use things around the house, whether it was a dead mouse or cockroach and he would chase me around the house or bring it to our rooms. He would make us laugh.”
Janelle said she would miss her father’s “cheeky mischievous smile”.
“When he smiled we knew something was coming and he had this ability to make us laugh.
“He had these big eyes and when he looked at us in a specific way we knew something was wrong and he had a gentle manner in disciplining us,” she said.
Warrant Officer Appels never left the house untidy, the pleats in his pants had to be in place and his bald head had to shine.
“He always made sure everything was in place. He never walked out of the house with a creased uniform and if anything was out of place he would return to neaten it,” she said.
Janelle said her father’s last words to her mother were that all the “important things” were in the safe.
“We thought it was perhaps policies, but it was our documents – our birth certificates and my mother’s identity document.
“This to us signified that he valued our births, our lives. He valued us. What mattered to him was us and what he valued was when we came into the world,” she said.
His son Ethiene said his father had been a highly respected man because he always showed people respect.
He recalled that they used to quarrel about “absolutely anything”, but there was always a lesson to be learned.
“I would get so mad at him because sometimes it felt unnecessary but deep down I knew that it was always a moment I could learn from, and I can honestly say that was always the case, even if it wasn’t noticed at the time,” he said.
Ethiene said his father’s shoes could never be filled.
“He was a genuine role model not the person who would do things for popularity but because he genuinely wanted to help.
“I will try my utmost best to keep to his values and morals,” he said.
Constable Felicia Adams, spokeswoman for Lentegeur police station, said Warrant Officer Appels served the Mitchell’s Plain community as a policeman for 38 years – first at the Eastridge station in their crime prevention unit and then at Lentegeur when the area’s police station opened in 2013.
“He was a very open, honest and lovable person. He disciplined the younger staff members like a father would his children.
“He would talk to you sternly but afterwards he would be normal,” she said.
Due to lockdown restrictions, Warrant Officer Appels’s funeral is by invitation only. However, those who want to pay their respects may drive past the Moravian Church, corner of Silversands Avenue and Loganberry Way in Westridge on Saturday August 8 between 8.30am and 9.30am.