No less than 3 500 policemen and women are uncertified to carry firearms and a “startling” 11 000 do not have competency certificates.
This is according to the reply given to a Parliamentary question posed by Democratic Alliance, DA shadow deputy police minister, Dianne Kohler Barnard.
The provincial breakdown shows Gauteng, one of the provinces identified earlier this month by Police Minister, Fikile Mbalula, as a national crime hotspot, having 3 481 police officers deployed without firearm competency certificates. The province also has the single highest number of police officers carrying firearms without being officially competent – 940 – in the country’s economic hub.
The remaining provinces without competency certificates are led by Eastern Cape (1 273) with Mpumalanga (1 117), KwaZulu-Natal (1 107) and Limpopo (1 009) making up the big numbers. North West (975), Western Cape (913), Free State (894) and Northern Cape (565) are the other provinces.
Kohler Barnard said SAPS is supposed to issue firearm permits to officials “only if they can prove they are fit and proper and have successfully completed training to safely handle a firearm”.
This indicates, she added, that SAPS has failed to ensures thousands of police officials are fit to handle and use their guns. “This put not only the South African public in danger but also police officials as anyone carrying a firearm without a licence faces up to 15 years in prison”.
“The police are grossly under-trained. For thousands of officers, meant to be custodians of our safety and security, to continue to carry firearms while not being properly certified, only increases danger for ordinary South Africans.
“It is high time SAPS transforms into the professional police service required to fight crime so the people of South Africa can feel safe in their homes and on the streets,” she said.