• The reality of prisons for many inmates is far from hoping to be rehabilitated. Instead, the reality is one of trying to protect oneself from the violence perpetrated on the inside. Read our article about the shocking reality of prison violence in the August 2017 issue of Servamus.

    The reality of prisons for many inmates is far from hoping to be rehabilitated. Instead, the reality is one of trying to protect oneself from the violence perpetrated on the inside. Read our article about the shocking reality of prison violence in the August 2017 issue of Servamus.

  • Some people seem to choose a life of violent crime. We ask whether it is due to an antisocial personality disorder or genes or whether other factors are at play. Read this interesting article in the August 2017 issue of Servamus.

    Some people seem to choose a life of violent crime. We ask whether it is due to an antisocial personality disorder or genes or whether other factors are at play. Read this interesting article in the August 2017 issue of Servamus.

  • Commercial crime is often regarded as “not so serious”. We prove the opposite in an article featured in the August 2017 issue of Servamus by giving a South African perspective to this very serious crime and the impact it has on the community and economy.

    Commercial crime is often regarded as “not so serious”. We prove the opposite in an article featured in the August 2017 issue of Servamus by giving a South African perspective to this very serious crime and the impact it has on the community and economy.

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By Kotie Geldenhuys

Normal, healthy people seldom dream about death. They do not see crime scenes and dead people when they close their eyes. They do not pray night after night to have a peaceful night's rest. They do not relive moments of anxiety and fear over and over again. They do not wake up with a shock, sweating and screaming.

Law enforcement officers are not only exposed to violence; they are often themselves the victims of violence and sometimes, they also have to use violence against offenders. Law enforcement officers are expected to have considerable tolerance for living with violence and danger, but this constant exposure to violence has an impact on both their mental and physical health. It can cost some law enforcement officers dearly in terms of their careers, their marriages and even their lives.

Although almost all law enforcement officers in South Africa are exposed to violence from time to time, the focus of our article will fall on members of the SAPS and specifically those working at high risk units such as Operational Response Units at Public Order Policing, the Special Task Force, the National Intervention Unit and Tactical Response Units, Detective Services which include the Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offence (FCS) Units, Vispol which includes K9 Units and the Flying Squad and Forensic Services which includes crime scene experts, the Victim Identification Unit and Investigative Psychology Unit.

Members put their lives at risk each day when leaving home due to the high levels of crime and violence which South African police members have to deal with. They never know when they will have to face a bullet fired by a criminal without warning or when they will be injured in a vehicle crash during high speed chases with criminals. Police officials are often exposed to horrific scenes when they attend to serious vehicle accidents, shooting incidents, stabbing and rape scenes, violent protest actions and many other violent crime situations. Witnessing these horrific scenes is incredibly stressful and could lead to disillusionment and feelings of depression. It comes as no surprise that police work is regarded as one of the most stressful occupations in the world.

While being exposed to the blood, gore and danger, police officials are also at risk of getting into contact with communicable diseases in their daily interactions with citizens and risk being verbally and physically assaulted. In many other countries, the police are recognised and respected for their important work and receive competitive salaries, but in South Africa this is not the case. Police officials are generally at the receiving end of the problems experienced by communities and are blamed for almost everything that is going wrong. Van der Westhuizen (2016) stresses that this lack of recognition makes police officials feel unappreciated and undervalued and feel that their work is regarded as meaningless and insignificant.

Moreover, law enforcement officers cannot simply withdraw from their work environment when they are under threat. They cannot simply turn their backs on those who have called on them for help and they need to adhere to the responsibility of maintaining law and order in society. When police members experience too much occupational stress, they can suffer from increased chronic stress, depression, heart disease, post-traumatic stress, burn-out, and alcohol and drug abuse disorders, and they might even attempt to commit suicide.

Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) - the hidden toll
Frequent exposure to dangerous incidents and violence can lead to the development of mental health conditions including anxiety disorders such as depression, major depressive disorders (MDD), acute stress disorders (ASD) and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Leino et al (2011) reiterate that damage to one's psychological health can manifest itself in reduced work satisfaction or psychological morbidity, which can range from distress to more serious psychological disorders. Prolonged distress symptoms can even lead to more serious psychiatric disorders.

What is PTSD?
According to Skeffington (2016), PTSD is a serious mental health condition that may develop following potentially traumatic experiences. Symptoms include hyperarousal or hypervigilance, severe anxiety, numbing or depression, intrusive thoughts (typically flashbacks or nightmares), avoidance or withdrawal, as well as uncontrollable thoughts about the event. Most people who experience traumatic events may have temporary difficulty in adjusting and coping, but with time and good self-care, they usually get better. If the symptoms worsen, last for months or even years and interfere with a person's day-to-day functioning, s/he may have PTSD.

The extent of the problem
In February 2016, the acting National Commissioner of the SAPS at the time, Lt-Gen Khomotso Phahlane, made a presentation to the Police Portfolio Committee and informed the committee members that the SAPS's Component Employee Health and Wellness (EHW) received 19 097 cases involving psychiatric conditions (such as depression, stress and anxiety disorders) during the 2015/2016 financial year.

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[This is only an extract of an article published in Servamus: August 2017. The rest of this article looks at, among others, the mental health challenges faced by police members; how PTSD affects the employer and members’ personal lives and the services provided by the Employee Health and Wellness Service. Contact Servamus’s offices to request the rest of the article by sending an e-mail to: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or by phoning (012) 345 4660/22.]

Servamus - August 2017

Asanda Baninzi and Wox Mthuthuzeli Nombewu hijacked a sergeant based at the Langebaan Airforce Base and his girlfriend, then drove them to the Mawumawu area in Nyanga.
By Kotie Geldenhuys
Who will be the next National Commissioner of the SAPS? That is the question on many concerned South Africans' lips - especially those of police members, researchers and the SAPS's partners in the fight against crime.
By Annalise Kempen
Normal, healthy people seldom dream about death. They do not see crime scenes and dead people when they close their eyes.
By Kotie Geldenhuys
For a period of 11 years the serial rapist and murderer, Jimmy Maketta, terrorised communities in the Philippi area near Cape Town.
By Kotie Geldenhuys

Pollex - August 2017

Read More - S v Parkins 2017 (1) SACR 235 (WCC)
Bradley Parkins (“the accused”) was convicted in the regional court sitting at Wynberg in the Cape Peninsula (“the trial court”) on the following six charges:
Read More - S v Mabitle 2017 (1) SACR 325 (NWM) and S v Monye and Another 2017 (1) SACR 329 (SCA)
In Ask Pollex in Servamus: August 2015, Pollex referred to a number of reported cases in respect of “contract killings”.
Read More In Servamus: June 2017, Pollex discussed the case of S v Hewitt 2017 (1) SACR 309 (SCA) (“the Hewitt case”). (The case involved the retired, world-renowned champion tennis player and instructor, Bob Hewitt.)
The Hewitt case was about three female complainants of whom two were raped and one was sexually assaulted (this offence was known as indecent assault at the time).
This month sees the last of our series of unlawful arrest and detention cases.

Letters - August 2017

Read More - An update (Servamus: December 2016
The telephone rings sharply in the charge office of Kliptown Police Station. The sergeant on duty looks up at the old clock hanging above the fireplace.
From 13 to 16 June 2017, members of the South African Police Service embarked on a trip to Mossel Bay for the Inter Provincial Soccer Championship, which was held at the D'Almeida sports ground.
Fathers’ Day was celebrated this year on 18 June, and I decided to run a special project under Social Crime Prevention for the fathers at Westville SAPS, with the wonderful support of some very gracious sponsors.
August 2017 Magazine Cover

Servamus' Mission

Servamus is a community-based safety and security magazine for both members of the community as well as safety and security practitioners with the aim of increasing knowledge and sharing information, dedicated to improving their expertise, professionalism and service delivery standards. It promotes sound crime management practices, freedom of speech, education, training, information sharing and a networking platform.