Cop turns to court for help after traumatising Reeva death scene

2015-07-21 09:42
(Sky News)

(Sky News)

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Pretoria - A policeman who was hospitalised for post traumatic stress after taking photos at the gruesome scene where Reeva Steenkamp lost her life has turned to the High Court in Pretoria for help to get medically boarded.

Warrant Officer Morné du Toit wants the court to set aside a January 2015 decision by the head of the police's medical administration to withdraw his ill-health retirement and to reinstate his retirement with immediate effect.

He also wants the court to order the Police Commissioner to ensure that the claim Du Toit lodged with the Compensation Commissioner in November 2013 in respect of a stress-related occupational incident on 14 February 2013 is prosecuted to finality.

The application was removed from the court roll for the Police Minister, the Police Commissioner and the two Brigadiers who dealt with Du Toit's case to file opposing papers.

Diagnosed with PTSD

Paralympian Oscar Pistorius is due to be released under correctional supervision in August, 10 months after being sentenced to five years imprisonment on a charge of culpable homicide for the death of Steenkamp, who was his girlfriend.
 
Du Toit joined the police in 1994 and because of the gruesome and traumatic nature of his work diagnosed with post traumatic stress and major depressive disorder in 2010 and put on sick leave.

He applied for ill-health retirement in October 2012 but it was declined and he was told to resume his duties in an administrative post.

When this post never materialised, the police suspended his salary and all his medical benefits and gave him notice that they intended to terminate his service for breach of contract.

Du Toit appealed the decision and also obtained a Labour Court ruling to stop the police from firing him.

He was forced to resume his duties, but could not obtain medical treatment because his medical benefits had been stopped.

After his benefits were reinstated he consulted with a new psychiatrist on 11 February 2013, but was just three days later required to take photos at the gruesome scene where paralympic athlete Oscar Pistorius had shot dead his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.

The smell of death

As a result of the trauma and deterioration of his psychiatric condition, Du Toit was hospitalised for treatment.

He said in an affidavit drawn up shortly thereafter that he could clearly remember the smell of death at the front door, could still taste the blood in his mouth and started having continuous dreams of lying in a bath of blood.

"This incident haunts me day and night, controls my dreams and I can't seem to make it go away," he said.

Du Toit re-applied for ill-health retirement in April 2013 and the police's health risk manager recommended his retirement, describing Du Toit as a risk to himself and others around him.

His ill-health retirement was approved in October 2013, only to be withdrawn in January 2014 because he was accused of taking another job without authorisation, which he denied.

A charge of fraud was investigated and his medical benefits again suspended in June last year while his wife was undergoing cancer treatment, only to be reinstated the next day.

The National Prosecuting Authority subsequently declined to prosecute him and he has been trying in vain ever since to get copies of the documents pertaining to the reasons for the withdrawal of his ill-health retirement.

- Health24: Post traumatic stress disorder

Read more on:    police  |  reeva steenkamp  |  oscar pistorius  |  pretoria  |  pistorius trial

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