Cape Town - It's not every day that you see twins retiring together from the same job.
Khayelitsha SAPS captains Laurentius and Bouwer Schoonwinkel, 53, handed in their badges last week, after serving on the force for 33 years and two months.
The brothers from Brackenfell had an emotional farewell service at their station on 28 February.
They both started working at SAPS on 29 December 1986, before going to Pretoria for a basic six-month training course.
Bouwer was then deployed to Khayelitsha while Laurentius remained in Pretoria.
He joined his brother four years later at Site B in Khayelitsha where they served for the next 15 years, before Laurentius moved to Brackenfell.
Last year Laurentius returned to Khayelitsha and says: “Khayelitsha is one of the best police stations I have worked at.”
But there were tough times as well.
“Before the first democratic elections (in 1994), Khayelitsha was a hectic place to work at,” says Laurentius, who spoke on behalf of the twins.
“At that time, we lost members nearly every month due to being attacked.
“I was also attacked once with more than 35 bullets pumped into the police vehicle I was in, my passenger was shot in the foot.
“But we’ve survived and we’ve built good relationships with the community and our colleagues.”
The brothers also have a reputation for never taking off sick, but Laurentius says: “It’s not entirely true that I wasn’t off sick yet, I was off once in 1987 for seven days due to an ankle injury.
“Not taking off sick was easy; it’s all about discipline, if you’re not sick, you come to work.”
Khayelitsha SAPS communications officer, Lowellan West, says the Schoonwinkel brothers may appear grumpy but have hearts of gold.
“They almost never smile and look unapproachable, but when ideas are on the table and given the go-ahead, they would be on board leading the pack.
“They’ve walked through many parts of South Africa, sometimes for fun and other times for charity events, and you will still see them walking in the Brackenfell area, always together.
"It’s a real honour to have worked with them and I salute them for their contributions to the organisation.
“They were always punctual, and treated everyone with respect, and they’ve never had (disciplinary) cases against them.”
The brothers, who love to walk and tend to their beautiful garden in their free time, will now be looking after their elderly parents and plan on farming bread cycads (broodbome).
“We are moving to our parents’ home in Riviersonderend, our dad is 90 and mom is 86 and can’t look after themselves anymore.
“We don’t have wives or kids. They would separate us. It’s just us and we look after each other,” says Laurentius.