Ekurhuleni cops office bound because of bullet shortages

18 July 2017 - 13:39 By Naledi Shange
Bullets. File photo.
Bullets. File photo.
Image: Gallo Images/Thinkstock

An alleged shortage of bullets has resulted in some Ekurhuleni police officers being confined to their police station‚ unable to carry out duties outside the office as their guns have been confiscated.

According to insiders‚ more than 20 police officers stationed in Springs have had had their guns confiscated since last week because they could not renew their shooting compliance certificates which have expired.

More than 20 others are expected to lose their guns this week as their certificates have also expired.

“We were told last week Tuesday that the shooting [course] is cancelled because of the shortage of ammunition‚” said one officer who spoke to TimesLIVE on condition of anonymity.

“Our guns were then taken last Friday and we were told that we cannot go out [to work in the field] because we don’t have our compliance certificates. If anything happens with your gun and you don’t have the certificate‚ SAPS will not cover you‚” he said.

Some of the police officers who have since been disarmed and pulled off the ground work were part of a team which was deployed to Soweto to monitor the situation amid the ongoing taxi disruptions.

“This is a serious problem because we are part of the taxi task team that is meant to be assisting the Johannesburg Metro Police Department‚” said the officer.

“If there is any crisis‚ there is no way we can respond‚” he said.

His colleague‚ who also asked to remain anonymous‚ said the situation was frustrating.

“My certificate of competence [to handle a firearm] expired on July 15. I was prepared to go to the shooting range so I can go back to work but this morning‚ I was told that I cannot go to the shooting range. I am shocked. How can the SA Police Service say it is running out of ammunition?” he asked.

“This means we cannot go and serve the community and we are part of an important provincial task team‚” he said.

“Last week‚ we were with [transport MEC Ismail] Vadi and he said police were not quick to respond. He doesn’t understand the problems we face‚” he said.

“But this is the first time ever in my years of service that I hear of something like this‚” the officer said.

Asked what they were doing in the meantime‚ one officer said “I am doing nothing” while the other told TimesLIVE he was “taking in the sun outside the police station”.

Meanwhile‚ the shooting range that the officers had been expected to go to could not provide any further information on the alleged shortage of ammunition in the police.

An official from the Rooikraal Shooting Range in Heidelburg told TimesLIVE that they had a standing contract with the police where they could come in and use the facilities whenever they needed to. They were not involved in the issuing of ammunition.

But police spokesperson Lieutenant-Colonel Lungelo Dlamini denied the crisis.

“Although this office may not discuss operational issues relating to resources such as equipment‚ personnel and training with the media‚ there are no members in Springs whose firearms have been withdrawn‚” Dlamini said.