SAPS: probe post-traumatic stress disorder

2011-02-13 22:00

Johannesburg - A new study has found that police involvement in serious and violent crime is not limited to “isolated incidents” but a general pattern of behaviour that is common across the country.

Researchers say the 100 cases they examined are just “the tip of the iceberg” and they highlight ­alleged police involvement in ­serious crimes such as ATM bombings and house robberies, among others.

The research was conducted last year by the unit for risk analysis at the South African Institute of Race Relations (SAIRR) and is due for ­release on Monday.
The researchers studied media ­reports and gathered information from the Independent Complaints Directorate (ICD). Within one week 100 cases of alleged police involvement in serious and ­violent crime were found.

The cases did not include petty crimes, poor service delivery or officials soliciting small bribes.

Three quarters of the cases studied took place between January 2009 and April last year.

They were not an indication of the total number of allegations against police officers or convictions of police officers for involvement in serious and violent crimes over the period.

Public needs to know

“We have bumped into the tip of an iceberg of violent and criminal behaviour in the ranks of the police which needs to be aired in public,” says deputy chief executive at the SAIRR, Frans Cronjé.

Cronjé says the survey found:

» The cases studied by researchers fitted into a general pattern of behaviour that was common across the country;

» Police criminality did not ­relate only to corruption;

» The police’s occasional argument that “people committing crimes in police uniforms are not necessarily policemen” is unconvincing. The survey found that in more than 40 cases police officers on duty and in uniform and/or driving state vehicles had committed crimes - often with their service weapons; and

» There were low conviction rates for offending police officers.


Cronjé emphasises that police officers are under enormous stress as the murder rate in South Africa is eight times that in the US and 20 times higher than in any other Western country.

Says Cronjé: “In just one year of service, police officers may be ­exposed to more violence and ­brutality than officers in other countries may see in their whole ­careers.

“It would therefore not be ­surprising to learn that their own violent behaviour may first and foremost be a product of the very violent world they inhabit, and for this we need to have a great ­measure of sympathy.”

The report, titled Broken Blue Line, proposes that:

» The ICD be placed under a new parent ministry such as the justice department;

» Existing trauma debriefing programmes for police are inadequate and research into the extent of post-traumatic stress disorder in police ranks is needed; and

» Levels of discipline, ­command and control in the ­police seem low and need to be ­enforced.

The report suggests the ICD should rather be reporting to the department of justice and that a new “hunter force” should be establish to infiltrate police stations and actively root out criminal officers.

  • Pragmatist - 2011-02-14 00:00

    I run a stress management course... contact me through news24

  • Joe - 2011-02-14 04:04

    the whole county is suffering from PTSD, thanks to those incompetent fools in government! we should ALL be given special treatment!

      Wes - 2011-02-14 05:58

      What about Jannie Odendaal and partner how much support has he got from his superiors when all he was doing was his job. They treating him like a criminal and ignoring all the other useless rubbish in the force.

  • markbergertraining - 2011-02-14 08:23

    The severe impact of PTSD is exactly what I was referring to in my newsletter at the end of last year. You can read it at

  • So What? - 2011-02-14 08:40

    The SA Police has been denying PTSD, PDSD, Depression and the related symptoms such as anxiety disorders for many many years. The old District Surgeons used to secretly treat patients. Drinking the problem away was common and one did not dare to be declared 'bossies' as the term was. Ask any of the policeman that had to leave without the benefits that would have been due them had they been diagnosed correctly. Sad, and even now the SAP tries to treat the symptoms away. As one psychaitrist put it, it is like treating a soldier, getting him well and then sending him back to the trenches again. Continual exposure will not result in effective treatment as far as I can deduce.

  • GoFlyaKite - 2011-02-14 09:13

    Then when a cop is happy in his post they decide to move him. Because he is too white or there are too many warrant officers. He was placed in a post because of PTSD. The new post makes the officer happy and he does his job better than before. They just cause more stress by shuving hard working happy members around. Sending them to stations where they know they will crack just so they can get rid of what they call old era cops and the whites. Remember resolution 7 well people it is happening again in Gauteng, if you are not the right rank or colour sorry boet off you go to a station toughies whether you are happy or not. As the chief of the police said if you cannot handle it leave. Nice way to show how you care about your members isn't it. The members suffering with PTSD will be victamised and eventually forced to leave, just by transfering them to where they do not want to be. Sad but true. This article does not tell the public what is actually going on. Speak to a cop get involved and find out the true dark side.

  • Darwinian - 2011-02-14 12:19

    seriously??? 06:00 - shift starts 07:00 - coffee & muffins 08:00 - take bribe 09:00 - KFC 10:00 - set rapist free 11:00 - fish & chips 12:00 - murder colleague 13:00 - pap le nyama 14:00 - loose service pistol 15:00 - tea & muffins 16:00 - set murderer free 17:00 - McDonalds 18:00 - misuse state vehicle, shift ends stressful indeed

  • GoFlyaKite - 2011-02-14 13:52

    Do you even know what you are talking about? Are you in the belly of the beast? Do not generalise, the handful hard workers are what are trying to keep everything together. Some of them do not even get the opportunity to eat. You try do their jobs for a day. I can tell you now you will run away like a little girl crying. If you have an issue why not phone and report it all vehicles are marked, they can be satelite tracked as well as the people on duty using the vehicle are noted. Get off you behind stop complaining and help for a change, or start making a change. Big loud mouths are just full of hot air. So much easire to complain and draw comparisions here than it is to stand in the lime light.

  • fiona.leibowitz - 2011-03-06 20:30

    look at - we are starting to bring it into the police services - took it very successfully into Pretoria Prison last year. Please encourage TRE - it is highly effective for stress and PTSD.

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