Investigations have revealed that almost 8000 SAPS firearms were lost and stolen. Citing the Police Minister, Fikile Mbalula, AfriForum related that the firearms are being used in violent crime.
The Forum said the Police Minister informed it that investigations have indicated that lost and stolen SAPS firearms are used in perpetrating violent and serious crime.
According to AfriForum, the information Minister Mbalula offered also divulged that the police has lost about 7829 firearms between 2009 and 2014.
It was specified that the figure quoted above excludes firearms SAPS should have kept in safe keeping and as evidence. The figure is for those in the police’s asset register. From what we gathered, AfriForum requested the figure for the former but it wasn’t provided.
Commenting on that, the Forum’s Head of Community Safety, Ian Cameron disclosed that the organization is currently consulting its legal team in order to take further steps and acquire the information.
To the Forum, the reasons given for withholding the information are insufficient.
“The North Gauteng High Court referred an application in terms of the Promotion of Access to Information Act (act number 2 of 2000) (PAIA) that AfriForum brought against the police, back to SAPS in May 2017.
“According to this order SAPS should have provided the requested information to AfriForum within 60 days or given valid reasons why they could not do this.
“The application requested that SAPS disclose the number of state-registered firearms that had been stolen, lost or recovered between 2009 and 2014 according to the police’s asset register, as well as the central firearms register,” stated the civil rights organization.
Cameron argued that the disclosure of the information is in public interest.
“… The fact that Minister Mbalula admits that lost and stolen police firearms are used in these types of crimes confirm this.
“More than 18 000 people have already been murdered in the country this year and it is time the government urgently intervenes,” said the Head of Community Safety.
Also speaking, the organization’s Risk and Support Manager for Community Safety, Hein Gonzales said:
“With these figures, AfriForum is going to request the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) to launch an investigation into the police’s negligent handling of firearms.”
Gonzales added that the police negligent handling of firearms is a big cause of violent crime in South Africa.