Why cops kill loved ones
Pretoria - A policeman working odd hours mostly away from home, for a low salary and with a service firearm was always a recipe for disaster.
Dr Johan Burger, of the Institute for Security Studies, said the factors caused work-related stress, which was the reason police officers turned the guns on their partners and themselves.
Oupa Monaheng, stationed at the Akasia police station, joined the list of victims of this recipe when he shot and seriously wounded his girlfriend in Mabopane Block A on Monday morning. The 47-year-old then turned the gun on himself. He died on the scene.
Elizabeth Ngwato, his 45-year-old girlfriend and mother of his 8-year-old daughter, was fighting for her life at George Mukhari Hospital.
Family members and friends believe their relationship had been a ticking time bomb. According to family members, the relationship had become so bad that Ngwato got a protection order against him, as the two were forever arguing.
Defying the protection order, Monaheng arrived at Ngwato’s house just before 8am on Monday and walked into the property just after the children had gone to school.
Ngwato was hanging laundry when he approached. She ran into the house with Monaheng hot on her heels.
Three people that witnessed his arrival said he locked the front door using a padlock he had brought.
Four shots were heard, the witnesses said. Police called by one of the witnesses broke the lock to gain access to the house.
Ngwato was found in a pool of blood in the bathroom. Monaheng was in the bedroom lying on the bed, with blood everywhere.
When the Pretoria News visited the house, there was a pile of blood-soaked blankets, linen, pillows and other bedding outside the house.
Relatives had just got back into the house after being locked out for four hours when police took over the crime scene.
One of Ngwato’s three children returning from school said: “I heard Oupa is dead and my mother is injured… I had a dream that Oupa would die.” Her two siblings were not yet home.
“I don't know how we are going to break the news to her,” whispered a family member, referring to the child fathered by Monaheng.
The others described Monaheng as a decent man who appeared to be in control of himself and his life, but had been fighting with Ngwato lately.
Police spokesman Colonel Noxolo Kweza said Ngwato should have reported to the nearest police station if Monaheng was defying a protection order.
Kweza said police were investigating the incident.
She added the police service offered assistance for members under stress and those battling with their private lives.
Burger blamed the incidents of policemen shooting their partners on work-related stress.
He said police work was highly stressful in that the officers had to deal with crime all the time.
“Sometimes their efforts are not always fully appreciated by members of the public who have very high expectations as to how police should deal with crime,” he said.
“Not only do police officers deal with violence, but very often they are victims of violence themselves.
“Considering the dangerous nature of their work, policemen are generally not well paid, and domestic financial problems add to the stress.
“Policemen sometimes work away from home and at odd hours, something their spouses do not always appreciate, and this is a source of domestic quarrels.”
Burger said stress often led to alcohol and drug abuse.
“Add all this together, as well as the fact that policemen are always armed with their service pistols, and this is a recipe for disaster,” Burger said.
He said it was unfortunate that the police system was not adequately equipped to help members deal with problems experienced by their members.
other police shootings:
May 2014: A 23-year-old police officer shot his wife before turning the gun on himself at a restaurant at Cape Town International Airport. She survived, but he died. Two other restaurant patrons were wounded.
August 2013: Constable Mzwandile Bolotina, in what appeared to be a crime of passion, murdered his wife and then turned the gun on himself. Police received a complaint about the noise at their home in the afternoon. Neighbours went to investigate and found Bolotina and his wife dead with gunshot wounds in their bedroom. Bolotina was part of the Krugersdorp police station’s detective unit, but stayed in Kagiso on Gauteng’s West Rand.
August 2013: A constable attached to the Kuils River police station shot and killed his 40-year-old wife at their home in Kleinvlei, Western Cape. He then fled to a home in Delft and was arrested soon after.
February 2013: In North West, a police officer shot and wounded his wife before killing himself. The 34-year-old sergeant’s wife was en route to the Koster police station to lay a charge of domestic abuse when he tried to stop her by firing seven bullets at her car. He then turned the gun on himself.
December 2012: A police constable tried to kill his 21-year-old girlfriend after an argument at a tavern in Modimong Village, near Taung, North West. After the argument, he and the woman drove to a bush-lined area, where he handcuffed her to a tree and shot her in the hip. He then shot himself just metres away.
November 2012: A Cape Town policeman, Sergeant Max Gwanya, killed his family before shooting himself in the head, after an argument with his wife, Nosivuyise. The argument led Gwanya to shoot and kill his sister-in-law, wife and 4-year-old-son.
April 2012: An enraged policeman at the Moot police station in Pretoria shot his girlfriend five times in front of his colleagues before he ended his own life. Constable Vutivi Mabunda shot the woman, 23, after she had asked for help at the police station in getting her clothes from Mabunda's flat.
October 2012: An award-winning police officer, Sergeant Annesh Bootram, shot his former girlfriend, her mother and the couple’s 6-year-old daughter and a family friend in a Mossel Bay flat in the Western Cape.