EC colonel wins national award for second time
Dogged determination and a commitment to fighting crime has led to an Eastern Cape policeman winning a national award – for the second time in just three years.
Veteran police officer Colonel Amos Vinqi, 54, who heads the Eastern Cape public order policing and tactical response teams, was named the country’s best visible policing commander last month.
The award was handed over three weeks ago at the Police National Excellence Awards held in Durban.
Vinqi scooped the same award in 2015 and, for two years, has been hailed as the province’s top commander for visible policing as well.
The top brass have called him one of the most dedicated and fearless policemen in the province.
“To get recognition like this makes one extremely proud to be in the police. My family are all so proud of what I have achieved. Coming from a small farm to being a commander of a specialised unit is just an example that dreams can be achieved,” Vinqi said.
Vinqi, who joined the police in 1986, said his mother wanted him to be a teacher but he managed to convince her that he would do more good in the police.
“Since I was a child, I wanted to join the police. I knew that being a police officer would allow me to help people and do what I could to protect the people of the country,” he said.
A married father of two, Vinqi started his career in the Public Order Policing (POP) unit, then known as the riot police, in the former Ciskei.
In 1995, he moved to the East London POP unit during the amalgamation of police forces, and underwent specialised training with the goal of becoming the best commander in the province.
Vinqi was also instrumental in running the team that headed the country’s first test pilot operation command centre – which has since been rolled out countrywide.
He has served at various posts across the province, including Cradock, Kirkwood, Sterkspruit and Port Elizabeth.
Vinqi grew up on the De Klerksdal Farm in Bedford.
Proud farm owner Gideon de Klerk, 72, said he had been monitoring Vinqi and his brothers’ achievements since their childhood days. “I have known him since he was child.
“I have a picture on my office wall of him and his brother. I love telling people the story of these youngsters who have just done so well and followed their dreams,” the farmer said.
“I attended his brother’s graduation ceremony and have been keeping tabs on what they are doing. I have all the newspaper clippings of him (Vinqi) and what he has been doing in the police.”
Provincial police commissioner Lieutenant-General Liziwe Ntshinga described Vinqi as the most fearless policeman in the province.
“He is really one our top cops. You give him any task to resolve and within a day the problem will be solved.
“If I ever have a dangerous situation that needs urgent intervention, I call him to step him.
“I have witnessed him defuse protest situations first-hand and think it is his initial diplomatic approach that makes him who he is. Without a doubt, he is one of my best policemen.”
Ntshinga said in one instance she sent Vinqi to take control of a taxi violence outbreak in Mthatha.
“Within hours of him getting there the situation was under control and everything was running smoothly.”
Deputy provincial commissioner Major-General André Swart, a mentor of Vinqi’s, said: “I saw the potential in him when he was still a warrant officer. He has now overseen several dangerous and high risk operations with complete efficiency.”
A recent operation Vinqi was involved with was at the funeral of suspected hijacking syndicate leader Thando Mlilwana.
Police were on high alert after rumours surfaced that the gang could go on a crime spree in the Bay.
“This was a weekend and he sacrificed his family time to protect and serve. I am very proud to say that he is one of my members,” Swart said.
In 2011, Vinqi was sent to Sudan to train Sudanese police in conducting special operations and improving their policing.