Domestic violence among police on the rise

By Drum Digital
06 November 2014

The Civilian Secretariat of Police revealed that the number of police officers begin accused of domestic violence has increased by 25% in a year.

The Civilian Secretariat of Police revealed that the number of police officers begin accused of domestic violence has increased by 25% in a year.

This finding was based on visits to 145 of this country's more than 1000 police stations between October last year and March.

The visits revealed that:

  • About 74 police officers were reported as domestic violence offenders - up from 59 in the previous year; and
  • Only 40 criminal cases were opened against the 74 reported abusers. Only 40 of those accused had their firearms confiscated.

Committee member Dianne Kohler Barnard said that if the figure were extrapolated to all police stations about 2300 officers would be "potential abusers".

A report by the portfolio committee's research unit highlighted a number of instances in which officers had shot at spouses, lovers or family members.

Non-governmental organisations dealing with domestic violence confirmed that they had dealt with many cases in which police officers were reported as the perpetrators.

Palesa Mpapa, legal adviser to People Opposing Women Abuse, said police officers could "abuse the system" because of their position in the criminal justice system.

"[Police officers] cover up for each other, especially when they work at the police station close to where their partner will report [the domestic violence]," said Mpapa.

Kerryn Rehse, programme manager for non-profit organisation Mosaic, which aims to prevent and reduce domestic violence, said police officers could get "favours pulled to make the matter go away".

Lieutenant-General Khehla Sitole told the committee that disciplinary action against police officers guilty of domestic violence was a "priority".

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