• We pay tribute to the 40 heroes in blue who have lost their lives during the 2019/2020 financial year. #Salute

  • Why do some law enforcers have a resistance to wearing bulletproof vests and what are the implications? We explore …

  • Our healthcare facilities are supposed to be safe places where people can heal in peace and their carers can treat them professionally. Unfortunately, that does not happen. Read why some of our state hospitals are dangerous places.

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By Kotie Geldenhuys

In the early morning hours of 2 June 2019, Bernard Groenewald, a truck driver, pulled over along the N1 near Touws River in the Western Cape, when a petrol bomb was thrown into his truck. As he tried to jump out of his truck to escape, he broke his ankle and was unable to flee the scene. While he was on the ground, another petrol bomb was thrown at him. On 14 June 2019, he died due to the multiple injuries he had sustained (Kassen, 2019). There are many workers like Bernard and other employees in several other work environments, who are risking their lives to earn a living.

The general perception about violence relates to physical assault or even murder. However, workplace violence is an important subdivision of violence which describes any act in which a person is abused, threatened, intimidated or assaulted in his or her place of employment. Rumours, swearing, verbal abuse, pranks, arguments, property damage, vandalism, sabotage, pushing, theft, physical assault, psychological trauma, anger-related incidents, rape, arson and murder are all examples of workplace violence (CCOHS, Nd). The extent of workplace violence in South Africa is unclear, but every year, millions of American workers report to be victims of workplace violence. In 2018, workplace assaults in the USA resulted in 20 790 injuries and 453 fatalities (https://injury-facts.nsc.org/work safety topics/assault).

The term “workplace violence” can be confusing. What is perceived as workplace violence in the field of healthcare, is not necessarily perceived as workplace violence in policing. For example, when a police official is hit or pushed by a detainee or a community member, the police official may not regard it as workplace violence, but when a nurse is hit or pushed by a patient, the nurse will most probably perceive it as workplace violence. To police officials there is a contradiction with regard to what may be regarded as acceptable behaviour or what is regarded as normal or abnormal behaviour in the workplace. Police officials often find themselves at the receiving end of violence while in contact with criminals or suspects. As a result, police officials may not view workplace violence as a criminal act worthy of being reported. Police officials perceive violent incidents as an everyday part of their job. In the majority of cases, community members who act violently towards police officials when facing arrest, will be charged with resisting arrest rather than being charged with assaulting a police official. Ensuring the safety of the community does not mean that police officials become immune to the violence that can be perpetrated by those they must keep safe. Policing itself exposes police officials to danger, where they become targets and victims of workplace violence. However, in policing, safety from harm cannot be guaranteed (Mabunda, 2019).

Workplace violence, in the field of threat assessment, is defined as any actual, attempted or planned violence towards another. It includes communication or behaviour which cause others to fear for their safety and includes sexual violence and workplace bullying. It is any act where a person is abused, threatened, intimidated, sexually harassed or assaulted in his or her workplace (Labuschagne, Nd).

Victims of workplace violence
Although no occupation is immune to workplace violence, some occupations tend to be more at risk than others. This includes employees who:

  • handle money or valuables such as cashiers, transport workers, cash-in-transit employees, bank and post office staff, pharmacists and shop assistants;
  • provide care, advice, education and training such as nurses, ambulance staff, social workers and teachers;
  • carry out inspections or enforcement duties such as police and traffic officials;
  • work with mentally disabled, psychiatric, drunk or potentially violent people such as correctional officials, bar tenders and mental health workers; and
  • work alone such as taxi drivers, domestic workers and domestic repair workers (Mabunda, 2019).

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[This is only an extract of an article published in Servamus: October 2020. The rest of the article discusses different types of workplace violence; the factors that contribute to such violence; the issue of vicarious liability; the effect of workplace violence; and how to deal with such violence. If you are interested in reading the full article, send an email to: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or contact Servamus’s offices at tel: (012) 345 4660. Ed.]

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Servamus - October 2020

In the early morning hours of 2 June 2019, Bernard Groenewald, a truck driver, pulled over along the N1 near Touws River in the Western Cape, when a petrol bomb was thrown into his truck. As he tried to jump out of his truck to escape, he broke his ankle and was unable to flee the scene.
By Kotie Geldenhuys
On 6 September 2020, the SAPS commemorated the lives of 40 police officials who had paid the highest price during the period 1 April 2019 to 31 March 2020.
By Annalise Kempen
The untimely death of Suna Venter, an SABC journalist, in June 2017, is confirmation that threat assessment and management in the workplace is essential.
By Kotie Geldenhuys
We are all familiar with the term “bullying” and all too often images of learners who are bullied by teasing, isolation and physical assaults, come to mind.
By Kotie Geldenhuys

Pollex - October 2020

Read More - Pretorius and Others v Minister of Justice and Correctional Services and Others 2018 (2) SACR 501 (GP)
Three applicants, who are all members of the same family, were involved in this application before the High Court in Pretoria.
Read More - S V M 2018 (2) SACR 573 (SCA)
Relevant legislation Section 194 of the Criminal Procedure Act 51 of 1977 (“the CPA”) provides as follows:
Read More - Rautenbach v Minister of Safety and Security (nowadays called the Minister of Police) 2017 (2) SACR 610 (WCC)
Introduction Mr Rautenbach instituted civil action for damages in the sum of R346 750 against the Minister of Police before the High Court in Cape Town arising from Mr Rautenbach’s alleged unlawful arrest and detention at the local police station in Mossel Bay*.
Read More - S V Kruse 2018 (2) SACR 644 (WCC)
Mr Kruse, the accused, is deaf and mute (Afrikaans: “doofstom”).

Letters - October 2020

Congratulations to the subscribers who won the following books in this year’s book competitions:
It is with deep regret and much sadness that I learnt of the passing of W/O Herman de Bruin on 7 September 2020.
October 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.