In South Africa, the organisation that oversees the police is so concerned about officers who kill their wives and girlfriends with their state-issued guns that it has recommended forcing policemen to leave their weapons at work.

IANSA woman Lisa Vetten, of the Tshwaranang Legal Advocacy Centre to End Violence Against Women, agreed with the directorate's research findings. Her own research found that men employed in the security industry were four times more likely to kill their partners than other men.

South Africa: Disarm killer cops

30 June 2010, The Times Live

The Independent Complaints Directorate conducted a three-year study, the results of which were released last month. It revealed that 49 women romantically involved with police officers were killed by them between 2005 and 2007.

But not included in the report were the murders of 99 other police wives and girlfriends, in 2008 and 2009. Figures for 2010 will be released in September.

The directorate blamed the killings on stress, poor management support, financial problems, bad working conditions, uncertain futures - and easy access to guns.

In the report, former Independent Complaints Directorate head Karen McKenzie is quoted as saying: "I am concerned about the increase in femicides and domestic violence cases perpetrated by police officers.

"The SAPS are the custodians of the implementation of the Domestic Violence Act, but if they are not protecting and respecting their own partners or spouses, what of the women in the community they serve?"

The debate on the findings of the directorate's report coincides with the revelation that a 41-year-old woman is living in fear of being killed by her former husband, a senior Bramley, Johannesburg, police officer.

The woman, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told of how he regularly punched and kicked her in front of neighbours.

"He beat me up, put his gun at my head and threatened to shoot me. People were scared because he had a gun. He assaulted me very badly and I had to go to a doctor," she said.

Matters became worse when she divorced him and obtained a protection order. When he assaulted her again, she called for help but "instead of sending Tembisa police, they sent Bramley police, where he works".

After a long battle to lay charges against him, nothing was done and she approached the Independent Complaints Directorate, which, she claims, has also done nothing to help her.

"I still haven't been helped. Nothing happened. I'm still hiding. I'm scared. This man can come any time to kill me."

Directorate spokesman Moses Dlamini would not comment on the woman's case but said: "It's a concern when police officers use their guns on their lovers instead of on criminals."

Lisa Vetten, of the Tshwaranang Legal Advocacy Centre to End Violence Against Women, agreed with the directorate's research findings. Her own research found that men employed in the security industry were four times more likely to kill their partners than other men.

"The most obvious reason is that they are exposed to firearms. It's a very serious concern. We have quite a lot of women clients who complain of police partners abusing them."

Vetten said the threat of being killed by their police officer partners was a "daily reality" faced by many women.

The directorate's report also recommends making commanding officers more accessible to staff with problems at home, help with financial problems, involving family members in counselling, transferring officers to stations closer to their families to reduce stress, and improving the employee assistance programme.

Vetten said: "We must look very carefully at the argument that police should not take service pistols home. Restricting guns could go a long way to curbing these murders."

Gun Free SA's Western Cape director, Natalie Jaynes, said: "The level of stress and trauma that police work under is great and they have no outlet to release it. A study has shown that women are more vulnerable to violence at home at the hands of their partners than in the streets. It makes it worse in the presence of guns."

Police ministry spokesman Zweli Mnisi said the Independent Complaints Directorate had discussed the findings of its study with police management.

Originally published online at: http://www.timeslive.co.za/local/article527669.ece/Disarm-killer-cops