Police widows sue minister
East London - Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa faces lawsuits amounting to millions of rands in separate civil cases in the Mthatha High Court brought by widows of police officers, the Daily Dispatch reported on Thursday.
The claims vary from personal injuries to loss of income as a result of their policemen husbands shooting them before taking their own lives.
The claims brought by the women amount to R16m for incidents that occurred between 2003 and 2006.
One of the women, Sanela Dlanjwa, 29, is suing the minister for R5.8m in damages and loss of income after her husband shot her before turning the gun on himself on April 19, 2006. The husband, Thandikhaya Dlanjwa, had been stationed at Ngangelizwe police station in Mthatha.
In another case, Ntombenkosi Hlomza wants Mthethwa to pay her R5.8m for personal injuries, loss of support and funeral expenses.
According to court documents, the 36-year-old mother of four was allegedly shot by her husband, Bongani Hlomza, who then allegedly turned the gun on himself, at the Mthatha police camp on February 13, 2005.
The two cases come after a third widow, Dideka Madyibi, who was shot by her policeman husband, won a R4.5m lawsuit. She claimed she had suffered abuse at his hands, and that numerous appeals to his commanders to have his service pistol taken away were ignored.
The State appealed the award and she died on July 20, 2009, before receiving any payout. Her lawyer, Vuyani Msindo, on Wednesday said the State had lost its appeal and he was waiting for a decision on the amount to be paid by the minister.
Psychologist Geoff Swana said he believed all the cases were the result of stress that developed into severe depression.
"Once a person suffers from depression, they can become suicidal."
Eastern Cape police spokesperson Brigadier Miranda Mills said police conducted regular internal awareness campaigns to sensitise members against domestic violence. They tested policemen before they received their firearms, the Dispatch reported.
They could also later be declared unfit to carry one.