The Independent Policing Union of South Africa (Ipusa) has blamed the high rate of suicide in the police force on poor management decisions.
The spotlight has fallen on the state of police mental health, following the recent spate of violent acts involving officers, including the murder of a nurse at the Thembisa Hospital, on the east rand, by her police officer partner.
Ipusa General-Secretary Mpho Kwinika says they have a very serious problem.
“Immediately, when you are involved in any traumatic experience, there are departments which are deployed to you, to come and give you the debriefing sessions. We have got a very serious problem with that department. We are engaging, not only with the national commissioner of police … even the minister of police, to make sure that these resources are made available. It is not a favour; it is a must that this should take place.”
On duty police officer shoots dead nursing assistant partner at Tembisa Hospital
The Gauteng Health Department says it is normal practice for police officers not to be subjected to the same security procedures as the public, especially if they are in uniform and driving a state vehicle. This follows a shooting incident in which a police officer in uniform and driving a police vehicle, shot and killed his nursing assistant partner at the Tembisa Hospital, east of Johannesburg.
The police officer, who was on duty arrived at the hospital, called her partner to the parking lot then shot her before turning the gun on himself.
The woman died on the scene and the police officer was airlifted to the Milpark Hospital where he was, last week, reported to be in a critical condition.
The department’s Head of Communications Motalatale Modiba would not be drawn into whether the department would need to review its security policies at healthcare facilities.
“I don’t want to make commitments at this particular platform. For now, our concern is to ensure staff is debriefed. This has shocked them. They need to be take to the process. There are patients who are shocked. There other issues will be followed up when we do a post analysis, to see where are the gaps and shortfalls and how do we work with law enforcement and that going forward, how do we tighten things and minimise these kinds of incidences.”
Nurses’ union, Denosa, has challenged the health department to beef up security at healthcare facilities.