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Published: 27 Jan 2010
|DA: Statement by Dianne Kohler Barnard, Democratic Alliance Shadow Minister of Police, on the illegal arms trade (27/01/2010)|
|The 4000 new pistols ordered by the South African Police Service (SAPS) are not to boost SAPS firepower, but mostly to replace lost and stolen SAPS firearms, while the management of firearms within the Police Service deteriorates rapidly.
As revealed on the ARMSCOR website, the ordering of some 4000 new Beretta pistols means that another R16 million (equivalent to R4000 per pistol) is being spent by the SAPS on procuring weapons. However, we understand this order is almost entirely as a consequence of the fact that nearly 3000 SAPS firearms were lost or stolen over a period of just six months last year. That means that this is effectively R16 million spent as a consequence of the police's shoddy firearm management - R16 million that could have been spent on sorting out the array of other resourcing problems within the SAPS, had the relatively simple task of holding errant officers to account for their firearms losses actually been undertaken.
Last October, it was revealed that 2 944 firearms had been lost or stolen from the SAPS - approximately three firearms lost or stolen from each station in the country. These are the figures to September; implying that we will see record police firearm losses for 2009/10, once the final tally is in. This all needs to be understood in the context of a sizeable upward trend in the number of lost and stolen SAPS firearms in recent years. In 2008, there were 2 507 lost and stolen firearms, compared with 1 923 in 2007 - 7 374 SAPS firearms went out on the streets over these three years.
Even more concerning is that these firearms inevitably fall into the wrong hands and are used in criminal activities. As SAPS firearms are lost and stolen and then replaced at great cost, with seemingly no action from SAPS management to prevent this, the SAPS are unwittingly fuelling the illegal arms trade.
Similarly pertinent is the fact that for R16 million, one would have thought that the SAPS could have implemented suitable measures to stop officers losing their firearms in the first place.
I will be writing to the National Police Commissioner, Bheki Cele, to insist that better firearm management systems are put in place immediately, such as recording and tracking firearm inventories, personal and supervisory accountability, external audits of firearm management, and training in this regard so that less SAPS firearms end up in the hands in criminals. The thought that a SAPS firearm might be used to shoot and kill a SAPS member, is unconscionable.