Saluting Hout Bay for one last time

Captain Jacques Lourens helps fight a fire that ripped through the Imizamo Yethu settlement. Picture: Sullivan Photography

If you spot a blue light brigade driving around Hout Bay today (Friday May 15) come on out and wave goodbye to one of Hout Bay police station’s most dedicated officers.

Captain Jacques Lourens will end his 20-year stint at the station after being promoted to a new position at the Muizenberg police station, officially starting on Monday May 18.

His journey as a policeman started at the tender age of 17 on 10 January in 1991, when Captain Lourens joined the police force in Napier as a student constable for six months and was then sent to Pretoria for a further six months of basic training.

Growing up, his father William was a reservist and he fondly remembers him getting ready for his shifts.

“We would also look so neat, so smart and it was something that I wanted to be like. It sounds cliché, but I grew up wanting to be just like my dad,” Captain Lourens said.

He started working at the Hout Bay police station in December 2000 and his proudest moment came when he received the Silver Cross for Bravery in 2006.

One of his most memorable experiences of working in Hout Bay was during the March 2015 wildfires.

Captain Lourens spent three days, working 20 hours a day, watching the progress of the fire.

“Things changed from one hour to the next as the wind directions changed and different areas became at risk of needing evacuation.

“We travelled from one end of the bay to the other as the fire basically surrounded the valley. We eventually evacuated Chapman’s Peak Drive and sadly Tintswalo lodge burnt down,” he recalls.

“Apart from the long hours was the community support which was something like I have never experienced before. Everyone from emergency services to residents were in it together.”

When SAPS advertised internal vacancies and promotions, which comes around twice a year, the opportunity arose for Captain Lourens to take on a new challenge.

“The opportunity to apply for a promotion was advertised earlier this year in Muizenberg, which I applied for and have now been appointed in,” he said.

Captain Lourens said he would miss the people, and that Hout Bay was the “mostly friendly community”.

“The people are so diverse and each area has its differences, but the friendliness remains something that will always stand out,” Captain Lourens said.

Hout Bay Community Police Forum (CPF) chairperson, Anthony Chemaly, said the station was losing a police office who “carried his heart on his sleeve”.

“He really does. I can’t tell you how many times I have seen him work 48 hours straight without sleep to look for missing children,” he said.

Due to lockdown regulations, there was little time to arrange any formal farewell celebrations for Captain Lourens, which sparked the idea for various security roleplayers to pay homage to one of their most dedicated officers.

“He has been a massive asset to the community for decades and has gone above and beyond to serve this community. He is at work most days before dawn and in time of crisis, spending 22 hours a day, at the expense of his family,” Mr Chemaly said.

“He has shown exemplary passion and dedication as a police officer.”

Captain Lourens thanked his colleagues for the years of support and hard work, making Hout Bay a better place.

He also paid tribute to the CPF, emergency services, Law enforcement, Metro, security service providers, neighbourhood watch groups, community leaders and NGOs for the support and dedication in building a better community.

He ended off thanking the residents and community of Hout Bay for the many memories during his time in the area, having faced fires, floods, mudslides, unrest and fun times, celebrations like major events such as the Two Oceans Marathon and Cape Town Cycle Tour, alongside residents.

“Hout Bay was a small community when I moved here. I have grown with the community and watched the community grow. Hout Bay has its challenges yes, but when they stand together, they really stand together,” he concluded, with a salute to Hout Bay.

The security brigade will be doing their final patrol with Captain Lourens, starting at 6pm and encourages all residents to step outside to bid him farewell.