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Celebrating a Storied Career: Colonel Dawood Laing's Retirement After 40 Years of Service in the SAPS

Published December 31, 2023
7 months ago

Cape Town - A beacon of dedication and perseverance, Colonel Dawood Laing, has concluded a monumental chapter of his life, retiring from the South African Police Service (SAPS) after an illustrious 40-year career that exemplified his undying commitment to law enforcement and community safety.

Col. Laing was known for his hands-on approach to policing and his direct combat with gangsterism and drugs, making his mark as one of Cape Town's most respected officers. His career began with inspiration struck by a SAPS dog handler when he was only a thirteen-year-old boy in Bellville. With the seeds of admiration planted, Laing would go on to matriculate in 1981 and join the SAPS, where he would encounter mentors such as Warrant Officers Van Staden and Arendse who instilled in him the rigor and precision necessary for successful case handling and law enforcement.

His journey took him from the training grounds to the real-life battlefield against crime, where he scaled the ranks through unwavering dedication to excellence. The training protocols of the time ensured that officers like Laing truly earned their rank, tested rigorously through a 16-week program with the potential for dismissal upon failure to meet standards.

As South Africa grappled with political upheaval, Laing's empathy and resolve were tested in the streets of Khayelitsha, where he witnessed first-hand the consequences of political unrest on the safety of police officers and citizens alike.

The 1990s were both formative and transformative years for Laing. He ascended the ranks and took charge of high-stake drug operations in Mitchells Plain, targeting gang leaders such as Glen Khan of the Junior Cisco Yakkies. His encounters with corruption within the SAPS during this time marked a turning point, igniting his crusade against the rot within. He maintained a vigilant watch, leading to multiple arrests of corrupt officers over the years.

Laing's dedication to justice shone brightly as he contributed to the investigation of the Station Strangler and spearheaded community searches for victims in the sand dunes, a painstaking effort towards achieving closure for grieving families.

The latter part of his career saw him making significant strides in combating gang violence, with a focused effort on Hanover Park's drug trade. The outrage and subsequent murder of Constable Ashwin Pedro stands out as a stark reminder of the dangers and sacrifices made by police officers, reinforcing Laing’s commitment to his profession.

His work did not go unrecognized; residents and fellow officers alike lamented his promotion to Colonel and subsequent reassignment to Grassy Park. His legacy, however, remains assured as he leaves behind a solid foundation for future officers to build upon.

Now, with the shadows of his uniform cast aside, Laing turns his eyes to new horizons—a future that involves capturing the beauty of life through photography and entrepreneurship. As he steps into retirement, his parting thoughts reflect a critical understanding of the failings of the criminal justice system, and he leaves behind a plea for more profound change that could dramatically increase conviction rates and deliver justice more swiftly.

Laing's story is one of courage, honor, and a relentless pursuit of justice—a narrative that will continue to inspire long after his patrol car has come to a stop.

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