‘Cowboys welcome to cry’ in uMgundgundluvo policing cluster

2016-01-11 11:30
Pietermaritzburg SAPS communications officer Constable Mthokozisi Ngobese.

Pietermaritzburg SAPS communications officer Constable Mthokozisi Ngobese. (Chelsea Pieterse)

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Pietermaritzburg - On average, between five and 10 Pietermaritzburg police officers working in the uMgungundlovu South policing cluster seek psychological counselling every day.

The bittersweet statistic shows more officers are deviating from the “cowboys don’t cry” perception — a masculine stigma that exists in law enforcement where officers believe expressing emotions is a sign of weakness.

However, even though the increase is welcomed, it reveals the welter of mental and emotional issues that city officers are having to deal with.

The statistics were confirmed by Warrant Officer Rajendren Naicker, a chaplain at the uMgungungdlovu South Police Employee Health and Wellness (EHW) component.

Naicker, who has worked in the EHW sector for a decade, said most officers seek aid for either stress or trauma.

“Police officers are mostly stressed over finances, relationships, transfers and promotions. Others come in after they witness something traumatic in the field like gruesome murders, suicides and car accidents,” Naicker said.

In the last “couple of years”, most policemen and -women seeking counselling are young officers with less than 10 years’ experience, and according to Naicker, it is in this demographic that most suicides and murders of family members by officers occur.

“Everyone is unique and deals with issues in their own way. One incident in the field is not enough to trigger a suicide or an attack on a loved one; it is rather a build-up over years where one incident will then act as a trigger for violence,” Naicker said.

“A lot of members still think they can handle the pressure and take their psychological wellbeing for granted until they eventually cave in.”

Pietermaritzburg police spokesperson Mthokozisi Ngobese said although there are numerous cases of police suicides every year, the preventative resources available for officers in Pietermaritzburg are excellent.

“The police’s EHW offers home and hospital visits, trauma counselling, alcohol and gambling rehabilitation and financial and spiritual guidance to all our officers,” Ngobese said.

“Over and above this, we as a cluster hold regular workshops and seminars.”

One such seminar was held yesterday at the Imperial Hotel and was open to any officer in KZN and their spouses as well as members of the public.

Focusing specifically on couples and relationships, the participants were addressed by Bishop Joshua Maponga. “The public were invited to show officers that their problems also exist in the rest of society so they should not feel isolated,” Ngobese said.

“Before you are an officer, you are a community member, a wife or husband, and a mother or father. This is one of many inclusive approaches we will be taking this year to curb police suicides and attacks on family.”

• amil.umraw@witness.co.za

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  police  |  saps

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