WOMEN’S MONTH: Warrant Office Lehong shines as NIU operator
Share this article:
DURBAN - IN 2002, Warrant Officer Suzan Lehong joined the South African Police Services and has gone on to break ground in a field that has predominately run by men.
Originally from Ga-Phasha Selatole in Limpopo, Lehong (42) has almost two decades of experience and is one of only 23 female operators at the National Intervention Unit (NIU).
At the NIU, Lehong attends to medium and high risk operations. These include Cash-In-Transit heists, rhino poaching incidents, armed robberies as well as tracking and tracing dangerous suspects.
NIU Operators are tasked to stabilise volatile situations by combating serious and violent crimes, the policing of high risk public violence, and also provide operational support to other units within the SAPS.
The NIU render a specialised operational support function focused on planned, intelligence-driven and targeted deployments to address specific incident of crime.
Lehong has been attached to the NIU for the past 17 years and has worked on several high profile cases including that of organised crime boss, Radovan Krejcir and the Boeremag treason trial.
Recalling her highlights of these cases, she said it takes bravery, a high level of discipline, determination and endurance to work in this field.
"I was part of the team that was deployed to effect the arrest of Radovan Krejcir. I was one of only three women out of more than 20 members that were deployed to track, trace and take down the suspect. When we arrived, we positioned ourselves and once ready, we took down the suspect. During the trial proceedings, I led the team who were escorting the dangerous awaiting trial prisoner from Leeuwkop Prison to the Johannesburg High Court,“ Lehong said.
She was part of the team on the Boermag case, escorting suspects from the Kgosi Mampuru C-max Prison to the Pretoria High Court during court proceedings.
"I have worked on several other cases which include tracking and tracing down Rhino Poaching Syndicates and attending to a host of other serious and violent incidents,“ she said.
Lehong was also among the chosen few female operators deployed to the 2007 Cricket World Cup held in the West Indies to benchmark ahead of the 2010 World Cup.
With the acquired skills and knowledge, the cohort came back to the country and shared best practices with other colleagues in order to curb serious and violent crimes.
Over and above her day to day responsibilities as a team leader, Lehong is a qualified trainer specialising in weapons and tactical training.
As a team leader in her Unit, Warrant Officer Lehong says of importance is to know and understand the capability of each member in your team as this is the key for a successful operation.
"Being part of the NIU is about being bold and not being afraid to take up any task or situation one is confronted with. Its about taking risks and believing in your capabilities. I would like to encourage more women to join this specialised unit so that together as women, we continue stamp our authority in this male dominated environment".
To qualify as an NIU Operator, a member needs to undergo specialized tactical training. Once qualified, members continously attend in-service training workshops to ensure that they maintain and sharpen their skills.
“To Warrant Officer Lehong and other female NIU Operators, thank you for risking your lives on a daily basis to ensure that the people of South Africa are and feel safe,” a SAPS spokesperson said.