Südafrika: Adelle Potgieter

In the name of maintaining law and order, South African Police have used autocratic methods in dealing with criminals. These methods often fail them and the communities they are serving.

— Adelle Potgieter

Adelle Potgieter (35) graduated from the University of Port Elizabeth in 1991 with a BA degree, majoring in political science and public administration. Born into a conservative Afrikaner family, she was subjected to family violence as a child. In 1994 Adelle joined the South African Police Service (Saps) and pioneered peaceful conflict resolution in place of covert methods. She also established a rehabilitation center, and founded the Help Our People Excel Foundation (H.O.P.E. Foundation) to aid underdeveloped communities.

Soon after joining the South African Police Service, Adelle Potgieter helped diffuse violence between the police and gangs in Port Elizabeth. In October 1996 she was transferred to Internal Security where she researched the causes of violent community conflict. During fieldwork she diffused, resolved and mediated various violent conflicts in remote rural communities in the Transkei. As a police officer, Adelle suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder. Her experience with this illness led her to found the Restoration of Human Abilities (Roha) association, a registered non-profit organization that provides rehabilitation services to psychiatric patients. Since 2001 more than two thousand psychiatric, Aids/HIV and drug/alcohol patients have received free art- and craft-based therapy in state hospitals through Roha’s intervention. Adelle pioneered this approach to conflict management for the police service. Mediation and conflict resolution are not the only issues Adelle is passionate about. She is involved in poverty alleviation programs, social equality for women and the disabled and mental health awareness. In 2002 she founded the H.O.P.E. Foundation to aid underdeveloped communities with educational and job creation projects. H.O.P.E. works among indigenous African tribes, the Mpondo, Mpondomise, Bomvana and Sotho. These communities have high rates of unemployment, low levels of education, and high rates of HIV/Aids and violent crime. Currently the foundation is building a preschool. In 2002 Adelle also assisted rural communities with entrepreneur and education programs. Most of her work is voluntary and places a financial burden on her and her family. For her public service she was inducted into the royal clan of the Tembu tribe in the Transkei, a huge honor for a white person and a woman.

South African Police Services (Saps) Restoration of Human Abilities (Roha) Help Our People Excel Foundation (H.O.P.E. Foundation)