Unbearable pressure?

2017-04-19 06:00
The police blocked off the scene in Saturn Street in Roodepan, where a police reservist shot his wife in the arm during a hostage drama on Wednesday (12/04).Photo: Charné Kemp

The police blocked off the scene in Saturn Street in Roodepan, where a police reservist shot his wife in the arm during a hostage drama on Wednesday (12/04).Photo: Charné Kemp

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Pleas for the recognition of reservists were put in the spotlight after a Roodepan police reservist shot his wife in the arm during a hostage drama on Wednesday (12/04).

A source close to the reservist says the incident was triggered by money problems, after the reser-vist’s pleas for intervention from the South African Police Service (SAPS) fell on deaf ears.

Concerns were raised by several other South African police reservists regarding their safety and status in the police force after the recent hostage drama.

The incident happened at the couple’s home, in their shack attached to an RDP house, after the man had booked a 9 mm firearm from his workplace.

He is stationed at the Kimberley Police Station. He headed straight to his wife, to whom he has been married for six years, to deal with their domestic issues.

The suspect, who is due to appear in court, was charged with attempted murder upon his arrest at the scene.

The suspect’s mother-in-law is still traumatised by the incident, which she says could have been prevented if the couple had gone their separate ways.

She says that the suspect had walked through the kitchen, grabbed her ­daughter by the arm and led her into the shack.

“I honestly do not know what happened this time, as they were constantly fighting ever since they got married.

“She would always flee and come home and he would come to fetch her.

“After two to three weeks, she would again come home after being assaulted,” said the woman’s mother, Susan Suipers.

She says her daughter has been admitted to the ­Kimberley Hospital and is expected to undergo a two-part operation.

The suspect has been serving in the SAPS as a reservist for ten years and is considered an expert in crime prevention through his decorations in his field.

He has also reportedly contributed towards in-service training of new permanent recruits.

According to sources within the Kimberley Police Station, he was always praised for his hard work in the force and has been rewarded with awards and medals, including the World Cup Support Medal.

His plight was allegedly ignored on several occassions due to him being a reservist and not falling under the Policing Act Employment Health and Wellness Programme.

“The officer had financial problems that were also putting strain on his marriage,” says a source.

“But due to the fact that he has no benefits within the SAPS, he could not get any kind of intervention, like counselling or being assigned a chaplain, as he was merely a volunteer.”

The source feels that the law should be lenient on the suspect given his circumstances and the pressure he was under at the time of the incident.

He says that certain issues should also be taken into consideration regarding the manner in which the firearm was acquired.

He questions the actions of the commander in charge, who he claims acted negligently in terms of following standing orders in allocating the firearm.

“According to procedure, a warrant officer or a sergeant was supposed to be on that shift to do the firearm bookings.”

He adds that reservists go hungry and go through marital and financial problems on a daily basis, but there is no one to listen to them.

“Reservists are always considered nagging when they try to discuss their challenges.

“They serve the force selflessly for years without getting any kind of renumeration and have to accept when they are overlooked while all vacant posts are handed on a silver platter to family members,” claims the source.

“They are frustrated by the fact that they cannot even get union repre­sentation due to not being able to afford union membership.

“When it comes to assignments, they are posted equally to permanent members and are sometimes pushed forward.”

The source says that in March, the then deputy minister of police, Maggie Sotyu, said that the salaries of police officers standed to be reviewed due to the dangerous jobs that they do.

“It is an insult for a police officer to be expected to perform such high-risk jobs and be paid peanuts at the end of the day. Then at the end of the day, they are accused of and blamed for being corrupt,” Sotyu said at the time.

This incident has sparked an outcry, as reservists feel they are again being left out in the cold.

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