Who stole the bullets and who did they belong to? Top cops grilled in parliament
Only small amounts of the ammunition looted from a container in Durban have been recovered, parliament's police portfolio committee heard on Thursday
Who stole the bullets from a container in Durban during recent violent unrest, and who did they belong to?
This was one of the questions raised during a briefing by SAPS officials to parliament's police portfolio committee meeting on Thursday.
During the session — called for SAPS to brief parliament on stability in the police force and the ongoing restructuring process — committee members also grilled police minister Bheki Cele and national police commissioner Gen Khehla Sitole, along with other senior police officials, on issues ranging from SA's reputation as a crime-ridden country to the case of the missing bullets.
The bullets, which belonged to an unnamed private owner, were looted from a container in Durban during the unrest.
Thus far, only small amounts of the ammunition have been recovered, largely thanks to tipoffs from members of the public, said Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (DPCI) national head Lt-Gen Godfrey Lebeya.
Two people had been arrested in connection with the theft, he added.
“There are 1.5-million bullets in the hands of somebody and [they] pose a great risk to communities,” said committee member Ahmed Munzoor Shaik Emam. “When are we going to know more?”
There had been earlier concerns that the rounds belonged to the SAPS.
The theft raised questions of whether it had been caught on security cameras and how the thieves had managed to gain access to the container which should have been in a secure area.
The investigation would determine the container's movements and who was responsible for its safekeeping, Lebeya said.
He didn't dispute the figure provided by Emam. “We know the owner is supposed to have taken care of the ammunition where it was stolen [from],” he added.
The container was not cleared at the harbour, he said. “We are still trying to find out why not.”
While SAPS crime intelligence was working on the case, Lebeya encouraged members of the public to come forward with information.