“The incident highlights the terrible consequences of domestic violence if it is not dealt with effectively. Too often, South Africans ignore all the signs which point towards domestic violence,” said DA party spokesperson on community safety, Kate Lorimer.
An off-duty police Constable shot and killed his wife and two children at the Alexandra police station on Wednesday. The woman had gone to the police to register a case of domestic violence.
Provincial commissioner Lieutenant-General Lesetja Mothiba said a police Major who tried to intervene, was also shot dead at the scene. The Constable fled the scene and was pursued by police. A shootout between him and the police ensued at the officer’s home where he was shot and killed.
Lorimer said the portfolio committee on police was told this year that only one police station in the country complied with the requirements of the Domestic Violence Act. ”In March this year, the Civilian Secretariat reported to the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Police that out of 156 police stations countrywide that were checked for compliance with the requirements of the Domestic Violence Act, only one was fully compliant,” said Lorimer.
This, said Lorimer, “indicates that the majority of police also do not take domestic violence seriously… this incident highlights the high rate of domestic violence amongst police members, and the fact that not enough psychological assistance is available.” She said more social workers and psychologists were needed to help police at various levels throughout their policing career.
There was a stigma among officers, where those who seek psychological help were seen as ”weak and crazy”, she said. ”National Police Commissioner Riah Phiyega has said that the incident would be investigated properly so that the SAPS can learn from it and avoid tragedy in the future.
The question that followed the incident amid escalating violence against partners in the country is why has this kind of research in services police officers need to cope with their job not been initiated before now? “This is not the first incident where an SAPS member has killed their partner and family. It is part of a pattern which has been evident for many years,” Lorimer said. ”It is time to investigate the value of initiating mandatory debriefing sessions for every SAPS member. More psychologists and social workers must be employed and psychometric testing should perhaps be conducted not just on application to the Service, but at various intervals throughout a member’s career.”
Mothiba said the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) has launched an investigation into the incident.