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Exploring burnout among police officers in the South African Police Service (SAPS) at Elukwatini SAPS, Mpumalanga Province.

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Employees in the South African Police Service (SAPS) work under constant physical, emotional and psychological stress due to the demands of their work. This results in anxiety and trauma, which sometimes leads to burnout, and even suicide. The motivation for this study is the lack of research relating to this topic, specifically within the South African context. Many studies focus on employees in the helping professions such as psychologists and social workers, however there is limited scholarship on the police profession. This study was therefore conducted with the aim of exploring burnout among police officers in the South African Police Service (SAPS), specifically at the Elukwatini SAPS, in Mpumalanga province. I used a self-developed semistructured interview schedule to elicit information from participants through face to face interviews. Open-ended questions were used as a framework to guide the interview process with each interviewee. The findings of this study reveals that a variety of factors contribute towards burnout amongst police officers at Elukwatini, including the threatening and challenging conditions under which they work, both in the field and with regard to their administrative duties. The results reveal that police officers work long hours and also perform extra duties due to staff shortages. In addition, departmental stressors which include, limited chances for advancement, shortage of working equipment/resources, position/role dispute, position/role overload, unfair practices in relation to compensation, and overtime contribute to both physical and emotional exhaustion.


Masters Degree. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban.