While many celebrate the start of 2022, two families in the Western Cape are in a traumatic state following the murders of their children ̶ by their partners ̶ over the past weekend.
“Natasha Booise’s murder in Piketberg in the Western Cape this weekend seems to be yet another senseless act that could be ascribed to gender-based violence (GBV), but this case also highlights another worrying trend within the South African Police Services (SAPS) under the leadership of Bheki Cele,” comments Ian Cameron, Spokesperson for Action Society.
The Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) said Smit allegedly killed Boise in front of her family on the Piketberg Main Road, at approximately 7pm, on Sunday, January 2. Natasha Booise was shot dead in front of her 10 year-old son by her 31-year-old boyfriend, Richard “Makka” Smit, a member of the SAPS.
“It was confirmed some years ago, in an internal police training audit report, that when Bheki Cele was the National Commissioner of Police, thousands of police recruits were ‘pushed through’ regardless of being found mentally fit for the job. This negligence would see domestic violence and especially GBV cases skyrocketing amongst police members after the 2010 FIFA World Cup,” continued Cameron.
The SAPS skills crisis will cause an increase of domestic violence within police ranks. Not only are many new recruits not always screened properly before being allowed to join, the circumstances police work in are destroying many of them psychologically.
Cameron explained that this horrific increasing trend has been visible for years, but has escalated as of late. There has been numerous reports of SAPS members murdering someone before either turning the weapon on themselves or handing themselves over to local authorities. In most cases, it seems that these police members are somehow connected or related to the victims.
Some of the recent cases where a member of the SAPS were identified as perpetrators include: an officer from Tweefontein unit in Mpumalanga, who first shot his wife and then shot and killed another officer at Middelburg police station before turning the gun on himself. In the Free State an officer linked to the Buffelshoek police station killed his 33-year old girlfriend by firing nine shots at her.
“Yes, some murders are committed out of pure criminality, but many ̶ especially where the members end up committing suicide ̶ are symptoms of the deteriorating mental health of SAPS members. On station level thousands of cops suffer from Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms with little or no help to deal with the challenges they face daily. Very often, they become severely depressed and their mental health deteriorates. We can’t expect the SAPS members to assist in fighting GBV if they themselves are left wounded and neglected by their leadership,” adds Cameron.
Meanwhile, Manenberg police found the body of a 19-year-old woman was dumped in a bin in Olga Street, around 1:30am, on Sunday morning, January 9. The woman was declared dead by medical personnel present on the scene. According to the Manenberg Safety Forum, the victim was allegedly stabbed by her boyfriend and thrown into the bin.
The degree of brutally in this incident highlights the pandemic of GBV we are facing. Action Society calls for a thorough investigation into this brutal tragedy.