Being a police officer does not imply that your responsibilities are limited to making arrests, issuing citations for traffic violations, and directing traffic.
“I love the fact that I can change someone’s view about JMPD officers. The ability to interact with people, listen to their cries and propose solutions that bring hope to a child that everyone thinks doesn’t have a future makes my job meaningful.
Seeing children’s faces light up when they realise that you are a cop, but a genuinely nice one, that is priceless,” says JMPD Officer Itumeleng Buza.
Officer Buza is part of a team that undertakes community outreach programmes to help young people to succeed in the face of adversity. She’s spent the last 12 years teaching life skills to children in Alexandra.
Her initiative provides Alex youngsters with vital psychosocial support services, enabling them to be more resilient in the face of life’s obstacles. She also teaches them about road safety, bullying, contraband, drug-related issues, and human trafficking as well as how to report criminals.
“The programme has had a lot of impact because young girls need role models and people they can trust with their issues. We provide space where they can easily express their feelings without being judged or criticised by anyone. Some are teenage mothers who feel hopeless about their circumstances because they are always condemned by society,” says Buza.
For most girls who are the beneficiaries of her mentorship programme, the platform provides a safe space to ask questions about women’s sexual health.
“We provide young girls with a platform to showcase their talent, become children, and enjoy the moment. These girls go through a lot in their homes.”
Every year in the winter, Buza takes the girls on a retreat camp, which focuses on life skills, including the prevention of HIV/Aids, teenage pregnancy, sex and sexuality education, mental health awareness, as well as ways of dealing with and reporting gender-based violence.
“We hope these young people learn constructive ways of expressing themselves and develop mindful social skills, strong mental and emotional abilities, as well as character-building networks that will enable them to make well-informed decisions that will positively impact their future.”
Officer Buza who holds a Diploma in Policing, joined the JMPD’s Community Outreach unit in 2010. “I joined the JMPD fairly young. Before that, I worked as a waiter at a restaurant in Sandton. I then left to work for a store called Build A Bear before applying to join JMPD.”
She was born in Limpopo, Ga-Makgato. “When I was 15, I came to Johannesburg and never left.”
Officer Buza is a divorced mother of three: one girl and two boys. When she’s not saving the world, she spends her free time reading, visiting unfamiliar places, trying out new restaurants, spending time with family and friends, and watching movies.
Written by Nomasonto Manyehlisa