GARDEN ROUTE NEWS - During the past 46 years the name Kenny Africa has became synonymous with all things traffic. Motorists and media alike know the provincial traffic chief for his hands-on approach to road safety. That is however drawing to a close, as retirement waits in a few weeks' time at the end of July.
"I always wanted to make a difference in people's lives," says Africa.
The chief's early years were far from easy. He was born the youngest of 11 children on the small Moravian mission station Genadendal in the Overberg. When he was two years old his father died and his mother worked very hard to provide the best education possible for her children.
In 1974 at the age of 18, the young man applied to the Department of Transport to become a traffic officer. After finishing his training at the college in Ottery, he was deployed to the Worcester provincial traffic station.
After six months he wanted to call it a day because of the difficult circumstances caused by apartheid. A fellow coloured officer convinced him to stay, but after another six months he decided to quit. "This same officer, my friend, officer Cupido, tore up my resignation letter and told me to stay because I would become provincial traffic chief one day."
Africa then decided to change tactics and raised his personal bar for achievement. Instead of writing the usual 30 tickets per month, he wrote 300; instead of one arrest per month, he effected 15. He also worked more than 120 voluntary overtime hours per month and this did not go unnoticed. After a year he became the first coloured traffic officer to receive a merit promotion award. In 1976 he was also the first coloured officer to be promoted to a senior rank.
In April 2010, Africa became chief director of provincial traffic - a position he has filled with pride and diligence ever since. He received numerous awards for outstanding service over the years and has become known for his zero tolerance stance towards anybody endangering the lives of other road users.
Since 1997 when he first became the Western Cape's spokesperson on traffic matters, Africa developed an outstanding rapport with the media. "I have communicated almost daily with the 196 members of the media on my WhatsApp group," he says.
He married Trudy, a school teacher from De Doorns, in the late 70's and the couple has three children. Their eldest son was killed in a car accident in 2001. His daughter lectures at Stellenbosch University and his younger son is in the police service. They also have three grandchildren whom Africa absolutely adores. "If they want it, you buy it. They just know how to tweak you," he smiles.
If he could give new traffic officers some advice, he says he would tell them to thank the Lord for the opportunity to serve. "Stay motivated and always be willing to go the extra mile; someone's life may depend on it."
Asked about plans for the future, he would only divulge that he's definitely not going to disappear: "A possible political career may follow, to improve the lives of all citizens in the Western Cape."
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