Police minister Fikile Mbalula has detailed how thousands of police firearms were lost or stolen over the past three years.
Responding to a parliamentary question from the Democratic Alliance’s Zak Mbhele‚ Mbalula said 743 weapons were lost or stolen in 2014/15‚ 767 in 2015/16 and 760 in 2016/17.
While the majority of the weapons are detailed as having been stolen from police officers’ on duty‚ from their homes or vehicles and from the SAPS store‚ others appear to have been carelessly lost.
In 2014/15‚ 12 guns were left in toilets or bathrooms. In 2015/16‚ nine weapons were lost this way. In 2016/17 a further 14 guns were lost in toilets.
Over the three year period‚ ten guns were lost by police officers under the influence of alcohol‚ and four more were stolen in scenarios where liquor was involved.
Over the three year period‚ 427 guns which officers had properly locked up‚ were stolen during housebreakings.
Twenty one guns which had not been locked up were stolen during the same period‚ Mbalula’s response revealed.
While his response did not cover statistics for the current financial year‚ there have been several big losses reported so far this year. In July‚ 13 guns were found to be missing at the Nqangelizwe station in the Eastern Cape‚ while 32 were found to be missing from two police stations in Cape Town in August.
At the time‚ deputy police minister Bongani Mkongi said police officers were selling the guns to gangsters. “They did not just disappear. They were stolen by our own members. There are SAPS officers stealing guns and giving it to the gangs. It is an inside job. We know this is happening. How do you explain police officers going to parties of gang lords? Of course you are going to lose your firearms‚ because the guns are being stolen‚” he said.
by Bianca Capazorio- Parliamentary Bureau