|South African police officers show their Mandarin language skills through singing performance, during the graduation ceremony held at Sinosteel, Johannesburg in August.(People's Daily Online/ Zhang Jiexian)|
Several months ago, David Mothapo didn’t even know how to greet in Mandarin. As a local South African, he would never imagine he was going to spend a whole year in China to further study Chinese language and culture. Yet turning out to be the top student of the Basic Chinese training course organized by the two governments, David is going to realize this dream.
During the graduation held at Sinosteel, Johannesburg in August, 35 South African police officers showed their Mandarin language skills through singing and dialogue performances. 21 of them passed through the Basic Chinese training course, and the other 14 achieved the training of the middle class.
"I only saw Chinese people on TV and on the streets, further than that, I know little about them before the courses." David felt a mixture of excitement and nervousness about his trip. "We did meet some Chinese in our work, but it’s sad that some of them know very little English, and we struggle to serve them. But now I can proudly say if any Chinese come to the police station, I will be able to assist him or her with better communication."
Actually David has done it a few times already. He greeted them and teased them a little bit with his small Chinese, to make them feel more closed. "They are happy that someone is willing to know their language. They appreciate it."
"Most Chinese residents are keen to work with the SAPS, but unfortunately the relationship often becomes hostile because of communication difficulties," said Mr Wang Zhigang, the Counselor (Police) of the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China, Tshwane, as he explained the motivation behind the R40 000 sponsorship.
There are more than 300,000 Chinese residents in S.A. With the poor security condition, 11 Chinese people have been murdered in the country this year by now. Most of the Chinese are paying a great concern to communicate with the local policeman because of language barriers.
In view of that, SAPS and the Chinese embassy, China's ministry of public security held the Chinese language training timely, and achieved good results as it seems.
In order to keep the Hawks officers, who are occupied with various tasks of vital importance, on their toes but not interfere unduly with their duties as police members, lessons were presented from 10:00 to 12:00 once a week on Thursdays.
"We fully know that, at your age, how much effort and energy you paid to learn Mandarin, the most difficult languages in the world," said Tutor Cong Lin as she handed over the Graduation Certificates. "We admire all your effort made for the achievement."
Through this language course the Hawks officers have learned the basic Chinese speaking and writing skill, get preliminary understanding of Chinese culture, of course, including some of Chinese food culture, which will be extremely helpful to their law enforcement to have much better communication and interaction with Chinese Community in S.A., strengthening trust and understanding each other, to protect the legitimate rights and interests of overseas Chinese.
"I love Chinese people and their language, though it’s difficult, it is a great fun," said Caroline Matjila-Botlhoko, Chinese Course graduate Lieutenant from SAPS, who has just been back from Beijing after a year’s study. She is determined to travel to China again, to stay there for another two years, in order to improve her Mandarin.
As Major General Pharasi, SAPS Functionary from Gauteng Provincial Commissioner’s Office addressed at the graduation, China is equipped with a more advanced system. "It’s technology based, peaceful based, in full control, direct linking. And we want to be at that level."
They start by sending their members to China for further study. "There’s no way we can expect that the improvement of service delivering were improved without knowing the language and culture of people we serve. We appreciate the Chinese government to offer this opportunity to us."
He also quoted Chapter 12 of S.A. National Development Plan, "We will further ensure that, when people walk on the street, nothing happens to them. Basically we want to see a South Africa which is free from crimes. When we take hands, this is the beginning. And this is far not enough."