Concern over murders by cops

2018-04-17 16:35
After latest murder, police source says members should be scrutinised to assess emotional state.

After latest murder, police source says members should be scrutinised to assess emotional state. (File)

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Concern over police gun regulations have emerged again after the latest murder of a Pietermaritzburg woman, allegedly by a policeman boyfriend.

The man reportedly had a history of harrassing the woman, Wendy Dlamini (29) of Northdale. Her body was found by relatives near her family home in Larkspur Road after a family friend received a text message reportedly from the alleged killer to “go and pick up her body”.

The police constable from Mpolweni handed himself over at the New Hanover police station after the incident.

Dlamini’s brother, Eugene (26), told The Witness that the pair had a fractious relationship. Her family reported that she had obtained a protection order against him last year.

The incident is the latest of a number of incidents of alleged misuse of police weapons in the city and surrounds in at least the last three years.

In 2015, a policeman from Msinga gunned down his ex-girlfriend and a man she had been on a date with in Mpophomeni, in front of the woman’s younger brother. The woman died and the man was wounded in his back.

In April 2016, advanced midwife at Edendale Hospital Thabisile Doyisa (46) was shot and killed, allegedly by her policeman husband using an R5 rifle.

In March 2014, police officer Tembelihle Ngcobo (32) shot and killed her former lover, also a policeman, Bongani Lembethe. She was later sentenced to five years’ imprisonment after pleading mitigation.

Last year, a Tongaat policeman shot and injured his wife before turning the gun on himself.

In another incident last year, an off-duty policeman shot and killed his policewoman girlfriend at the KwaDabeka police station before killing himself.

A senior police source who spoke on condition of anonymity, told The Witness on Monday that police officers “need to be scrutinised regularly to assess their emotional state and placed according to the outcome of this scrutiny”.

The source said although counselling is available to members, some officers feel they do not need the therapy and don’t take advantage of it.

“After each and every traumatic or violent incident, officers are referred to our employment health and wellness department for debriefing and counselling.

“This job is extremely stressful. We do have the necessary help offered, and we have a good medical aid to get private help if necessary. Some members just feel that they do not need it and can manage without it,” said the source.

The source added that some senior officials in management positions do not take members’ health seriously.

“When their absenteeism is high because of stress-related issues, they are accused of malingering [pretending to be ill].

“The root of the problem needs to be addressed, not the symptoms.

“Perhaps firearms are just too accessible to members and they feel superior because of their jobs and the powers bestowed on them,” the source added.

“If we look around, some members are just not fit to be in the police but are ‘carried’ because of obligation or because nobody is prepared to address it.”

The source said members should be scrutinised regularly to assess their emotional state.

“As members get older and have more service, their job descriptions should be changed accordingly to accommodate health and age. Let them mentor and supervise the younger generation.

“Basically the organisation is too big ... There is not enough care for the people fighting crime.”

Pietermaritzburg clinical psychologist Clive Willows agreed yesterday that there should be careful psychiatric screening of candidate officers before they are issued firearms.

He added that regular counselling for police officers should be compulsory, as officers who do not have the ability to manage their emotions could become a danger to the community.

Willows said in his opinion, officers need to be scrutinised regularly to ensure they are fit for duty and are not a danger to the community or their families when carrying a gun.

In a report that Willows provided in the high court in connection with the shooting of her lover by Tembelihle Ngcobo, he found she was in an “emotionally distressed state” when she confronted the victim. Willows said in his report that Ngcobo — and anyone with a similar personality — should never have been entrusted with a firearm.

He stated that it was “extremely worrying” that Ngcobo was recruited and provided with a firearm by the SAPS without an interview to determine her motivation or psychological stability.

National and provincial police spokespeople had not responded to queries from The Witness by late Monday.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  police brutality

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