In a written reply to a DA parliamentary question, Minister Fikile Mbalula has revealed that over 2 500 police firearms have either been stolen or lost over the past three financial years. Between the 2014/15 and 2016/17 financial years, the amount of firearms lost or stolen in a year increased by 8%.
The DA finds this unacceptable as it makes a mockery of the fight against crime. Gun violence remains one of South Africa’s top crime categories and SAPS cannot continue turning a blind eye to disappearing firearms from its stores and police stations.
We will submit further parliamentary questions to the Minister asking him to clarify whether any of the lost or stolen firearms have subsequently been used in the commission of a crime. SAPS must indicate steps that have been taken to try and recover the lost firearms, including any action taken against SAPS members for negligence or corruption that may have led to the loss of these firearms.
Of major concern is the clear lack of urgency by SAPS to find immediate solutions to what is clearly a manifestation of carelessness and neglect on its part. In the first four months of the current financial year, SAPS has only managed to recover 13 missing weapons, representing only 0,5% of the weapons lost or stolen over the previous three financial years.
It is shocking to learn that some of the weapons stolen were out of the SAPS’s 13 stores where exhibits are kept. This means that these were probably weapons used in the commission of a crime, and were subsequently stolen out of the stores again after they were confiscated as evidence.
We simply cannot have a police service that is aiding and abetting criminal activity due to gross negligence. This conduct only serves to deepen the public distrust in the police service which we can hardly afford in the fight against crime.
The DA will continue to use every parliamentary process at our disposal to ensure that the fight for a professional police service is realized in our lifetime.