By Kate Lorimer MPL, DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Community Safety:
Last night the wife of a police constable went to Alexandra Police station to report domestic violence.
The police constable followed her and shot and killed his wife, the Major who was assisting her and 3 other people. He then fled the scene. As he arrived home he fired at police members who returned fire which killed him too.
I would like to offer condolences to the families, friends and colleagues of the deceased.
This incident highlights the terrible consequences of domestic violence if it is not dealt with effectively. Too often, South Africans ignore all the signs which point towards domestic violence.
In March this year, the Civilian Secretariat reported to the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Police that out of 156 police stations countrywide that were checked for compliance with the requirements of the Domestic Violence Act, only one was fully compliant.
This indicates that the majority of police also do not take domestic violence seriously.
The other issues this incident highlights is the high rate of domestic violence amongst police members and the fact that not enough psychological assistance is available
for members of the SAPS.
There are very few social workers and psychologists within the SAPS to provide these services. There is also an enormous stigma in the SAPS around seeking psychological assistance. If one does so, one is seen as weak or “crazy”.
National Police Commissioner Riah Phiyega has said that the incident will be investigated properly so that the SAPS can learn from it and avoid tragedy in the future.
Why has this not been initiated before now? This is not the first incident where an SAPS member has killed their partner and family. It is part of a pattern which has been evident for many years.
It is time to investigate the value of initiating mandatory debriefing sessions for every SAPS member. More psychologists and social workers must be employed and psychometric testing should perhaps be conducted not just on application to the Service, but at various intervals throughout a member’s career.
The situation cannot be allowed to continue.