Body of Bellville sergeant discovered in his office in an apparent suicide
Cape Town - Police are investigating the death of a Bellville detective sergeant who is believed to have shot himself in his office on Tuesday morning.
His body was discovered on the floor of his office at Commissioner House in Bellville.
SAPS spokesperson Colonel Andrè Traut said the circumstances surrounding the death of a 48-year-old detective sergeant were being investigated.
“His body was discovered in his locked office this morning at the Bellville detective branch. It is suspected that the deceased, whose identity is being withheld, sustained a gunshot wound which was possibly self-inflicted.
“A death inquest case docket has been registered.”
Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (Popcru) spokesperson Charlton Johnson, who was speaking about the mental health and work conditions of SAPS members, said while there were measures put in place to help assist police officers, it all came down to the individual.
Johnson said the work done by police members often left them exposed to trauma.
“They witness a lot of trauma, obviously all the crime scenes, and they must sit through domestic violence, and try to resolve all this stuff.
“The stresses and the trauma are a reality in the workplace.”
With regards to police suicides, Johnson said it was a very complex situation to try and analyse.
“In the past, the police have picked up through the reporting of deaths in early 2010, it was then established through the work stresses that SAPS members are going through, that some died by suicides or/and family shootings.
“The management of the SAPS then introduced a course, which is a work session where groups of police officials are called in and they had full-blown contact sessions with SAPS members on early warning signs.”
The attendees were also rewarded with certificates for their participation. He added there was a wellness programme, and even a specific department called EHW (Employee Health and Wellness) that dealt with assisting officers.
“They are easily accessible with trained officers who does individual counselling, who makes references to professional help, and they are trained in the field, so that there is sufficient resources in the workplace.
“In general, it is a stressful environment. Officers do have first contact with it (trauma), but there is, however, sufficient methods, but it is all up to the individual police official themselves, because some of them, they try to be cowboys and try to resolve matters on their own.”
He stressed there were early warning detection systems, in which commanders and colleagues would see attitude changes in officers which were then alerted to the human resources where interventions are done.
Johnson reiterated all the tools were there to assist members, but it was up to the individual.
“At the end of the day, it’s individualism, but there are measures in place in the workplace. I think management has done everything in its capacity to sensitise members upon it.”