Dianne Kohler Barnard MP
DA Shadow Deputy Minister of Police
A reply to a DA Parliamentary Question has revealed that a whopping 2027 guns were stolen from South African Police Service (SAPS) armouries in the last four years.
602 guns were stolen in 2014/15, 630 in 2015/16, 537 in 2016/17 and 248 since the beginning of April this year.
The reality is that the SAPS is fuelling the illegal arms trade. Thousands of SAPS firearms have been stolen over the past 20 years, and are out there in the hands of criminals shooting at the police, and at you and me.
This is the result of institutional failure at the SAPS. The DA believes that to ensure professional policing the SAPS must:
• Ensure all SAPS members receive adequate, quality training on professional policing that is continually updated and refreshed;
• Introduce a successful and visible system of accountability, making it easy to report police negligence, corruption and ineffectiveness which can then be dealt with swiftly and appropriately;
• Make police members pay for firearms they lose, and dismiss repeat offenders;
• Be instructed to implement rather than ignore the Independent Police Complaints Directorate (IPID) recommendations on SAPS criminality; and
• Give the national anti-corruption unit teeth, to ensure that police officers involved in corruption and criminality are investigated, caught and charged.
This high number of “missing” firearms goes far beyond the occasional case of negligence and is evidence of a problem that is not unrelated to high levels of corruption and criminality within the SAPS.
4000 Beretta pistols cost around R18 million, and that sort of order is made regularly to replace the thousands of firearms disappearing from the SAPS armouries.
The DA will therefore conduct oversight visits to SAPS armouries to pose crucial questions on security arrangements at these armouries and insist that the Minister orders a full national audit of all SAPS firearms.
This situation is utterly unacceptable and makes a mockery of the fight against crime.
Gun violence continues to be one of the country’s top categories of crime.
It cannot be the case that the custodians of our safety and security are worsening crime because of gross negligence and poor security measures. This only gives the public less reason to trust the police.
The DA will not rest until the SAPS has been fully professionalised so that they can fulfill their mandate of keeping South Africans safe.