Fabio Pitt teaches English to Grade 8 pupils at Maria Louw High School in Queenstown in the Eastern Cape during the week.
At the weekend, he changes into a police uniform.
Last year, Pitt caught 65 criminals, recovered 23 stolen or hijacked vehicles, 13 unlicensed firearms and stolen property worth R4.2 million.
The 47-year-old does this all for free.
“I felt there really was a need for people to make a contribution to safety in the area,” said Pitt, who has spent the past 24 years volunteering as a police reservist in Queenstown.
Pitt says it’s not always easy as he’s missed more than a few family events like birthdays because he was on duty. When the ball is rolling on a case, he says, you don’t just ignore it.
The case he is most proud of isn’t one of the high-profile ones or even the seizure of millions of rands worth of drugs (of which there have been a few) – it was when he managed to find a missing four-year-old girl a couple of years ago.
“At that point, I was still with the flying squad. A girl of four had gone missing around 4pm. Her friends said they saw a man put her in a shopping trolley and walk away with her. Myself and a guy from the dog unit followed the trail. At one point, the trail disappeared,” he said.
It got dark and it seemed the two police officers were looking for a needle in a haystack. They managed to find the shopping trolley tracks again and found the girl in a shipping container.
Being a reservist is an absolute passion for me and, over the years, I believe I have made a humble contribution to our beautiful country and its people.
“She was already naked. The suspect was also naked, and he tried to hide her behind his back when I kicked the door in. We had found her in time. It was wonderful to give that little girl back to her mother.”
In January, Pitt came third in the reservist category for exceptional police work at the police’s annual awards event.
It emerged last week that the number of police reservists had dwindled markedly, with an 86% decrease in headcount since 2010.
Only 8 908 reservists remain.
“Being a reservist is an absolute passion for me and, over the years, I believe I have made a humble contribution to our beautiful country and its people. And there are thousands of people just like me right across South Africa who make selfless sacrifices for this country – the SA Police Service doesn’t always recognise that and it doesn’t realise the human resources it has in reservists,” he said.