Bleak picture of police officers' wellness

2016-02-17 16:44
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Cape Town – A large number of police officers were either suffering from depression or were on ARVs, MPs heard on Wednesday.

Deputy Police Minister Maggie Sotyu told Parliament’s police committee that the health of officers was essential to the department.

Yet, they had been told that 89% were depressed, she told a seminar to address the scourge of police killings in the country.

Almost 90% of police personnel and their dependents enrolled on the police medical aid's HIV programme were on antiretroviral treatment. 

The HIV positive employees included cleaners, clerks, and police officers. The 34 to 44 age group was the most affected, she said.

Acting police commissioner Lieutenant General Khomotso Phahlane said this was not the entire force, but only members on the police’s medical aid, Polmed, and included their relatives and dependents.

A total of 27 246 members were enrolled on the police’s medical aid in the 2014/15 financial year.

Of those enrolled 69.2% were principal members.

A total of 10% of those found to be HIV positive were too early to treat, while 2% were defaulters. 

DA MP Zakhele Mbhele said this was a catastrophe.

He questioned the effectiveness of measures to ensure the mental and physical wellness of police officers.

Sotyu told the committee that in 12 months, 88 police officers were murdered or ambushed.

“I can say this is a catastrophic state of affairs and all of us need to act faster, together.”

She said she did not know of any other country with the same “depressing” number of police murders.

Police morale, and officers committing suicide, were also under the spotlight in the seminar.

Other presenters included Professor Elrena van der Spuy from the Centre of Criminology, and researcher David Bruce.

Read more on:    police  |  da  |  maggie sotyu  |  cape town  |  parliament 2016

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