Police negligence arms criminals with 7‚829 guns‚ says AfriForum

07 September 2017 - 14:32 By Sipho Mabena
Police Minister Fikile Mbalula
Police Minister Fikile Mbalula
Image: Supplied

Data released by the police reveal that negligence has resulted in police losing about 7‚829 firearms between 2009 and 2014‚ with some of these weapons used in violent and serious crimes.

Police minister Fikile Mbalula released this information to Afrikaner interest group AfriForum as ordered by the Pretoria high court.

In May the court ordered the minister to hand over to AfriForum‚ within 60 days‚ statistics on firearms lost by‚ or stolen from the police since 2009.

Ian Cameron‚ AfriForum head of community safety‚ on Thursday told journalists in Pretoria that although they had not received all the information they requested‚ they were disturbed by the figures.

With a whopping 835 guns stolen‚ KwaZulu-Natal tops the list of stolen guns‚ followed by Gauteng with 741. Other provinces with a high number of guns stolen from the police are the Eastern Cape at 635 and Mpumalanga at 289.

A total of 396 guns were stolen at police headquarters alone.

KwaZulu-Natal also tops the list of guns reported missing from the police at 1‚073‚ followed by Mpumalanga at 592 and Eastern Cape at 360 missing guns.

Eastern Cape leads the pack for most unaccounted for guns at 732‚ followed by Gauteng at 148 - with 154 guns unaccounted for at police headquarters.

“These figures do not include firearms that the SA Police Service should have kept in safekeeping‚ handed in in terms of gun amnesty for destruction and those seized as evidence‚ but only reflect those in the police’s asset register‚" said Cameron.

AfriForum also requested these figures‚ but they were not provided‚” he said.

He said their quest for this information was triggered by the 2014 police raid on the house of a Ukrainian couple in Norwood‚ Johannesburg‚ in which 112 assault rifles‚ handguns‚ commercial explosives and detonators were seized. The weapons included some that had been reported as destroyed by the police.

Cameron said out of over 300 firearms seized during the raid‚ more than half were state registered firearms.

He said these were firearms handed in during the amnesty period‚ saying they wanted to establish how the weapons ended up with the couple.

“Government did say‚ they did not even know that some of these weapons had been stolen or lost‚” Cameron said.

He said the information could answer the question as to where cash-in-transit gangs get the supply of firepower they seem to have.

"Mbalula wrote to us stating that data of missing firearms from the central firearm register could not be released to us as some of those firearms have been used in the commission of violent and serious crimes‚" he said.

AfriForum is going to request police watchdog Independent Police Investigative Directorate to probe police’s negligence in handling firearms‚ which the organisation’s risk and support manager‚ Hein Gonzales‚ said was a big cause if violent crime in the country.

The organisation said it would be interested to learn the circumstances under which these guns went missing or were stolen‚ saying in Germiston alone more than 150 missing firearms were investigated in one docket.