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Fri Mar 06 05:58:18 SAST 2015

Police 'lose' 740 guns

GRAEME HOSKEN | 11 December, 2012 00:01
Guns. File photo
Image by: SHANNON STAPLETON / Reuters

TOILETS, alcohol, dodgy robberies and "yet to be classified" incidents are the source of the theft of hundreds of police firearms.

In response to parliamentary questions from the DA, the office of national police commissioner Riah Phiyega yesterday revealed that 740 firearms were either stolen or lost by police officers in the 2011/2012 financial year.

Phiyega's office said six guns were lost in toilets, negligent loss accounted for 246 missing firearms and the loss of 286 guns is yet to be classified. In total, 352 guns were lost through negligence and 388 firearm losses were classified as "bona fide". In total 350 police officers were disciplined for the loss of weapons.

In terms of negligent losses:

  • One policeman lost his gun while drunk;
  • Four guns were stolen in robberies while police were drinking;
  • Ten firearms were stolen in burglaries in homes that were not locked;
  • Sixteen firearms were stolen out of state vehicles;
  • Twenty-two weapons were stolen from police officers in person;
  • Twenty-nine were stolen out of private vehicles; and
  • Eighteen guns were stolen from dwellings.

Guns lost for "bona fide" reasons include 26 while police carried out their official duties, 99 in burglaries in which homes were properly locked; 252 in robberies in townships or other places and 11 during collisions.

Phiyega said 425 investigations were pending into the disappearance of weapons from police armouries, handovers after shifts, operations, service terminations, thefts from offices and storerooms and after inspections.

DA MP Dianne Kohler Barnard said the response finally answered questions about how many police firearms were missing.

"In September police revealed more than 13 000 of their firearms were either lost or stolen between 2007 and 2012. Police confirmed 337 firearms were recovered from April 2010. We, however, do not know how many firearms were recovered between 2007 and April 2010. It is likely the majority are being used to commit crime."

Kohler Barnard said police Minister Nathi Mthethwa had to provide more "comprehensive" statistics on the recovery of lost firearms. She said the police could not continue to lose firearms, not recover them and allow those responsible to act with impunity.


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