Pretoria: Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa has instructed police management to strengthen firearm control measures with immediate effect.
In response to a Parliamentary question on Tuesday, the minister said while he had noted that progress had been made with regards to firearm control in some provinces, there were still provinces that continued to lose firearms.
It was in these provinces, in particular, that firearm control measures needed to be beefed up.
“During the 2011/12 financial year a total of 885 firearms were lost and for the first six months of 2012/13 there were 317… It is therefore fundamentally important that police management must attend to these challenges and put in place various corrective measures,” Mthethwa said.
He listed KwaZulu-Natal, Eastern Cape, Mpumalanga and the Head Office as areas where there had been progress in greater controls to prevent losses.
Provinces where further interventions were required included Limpopo, Gauteng and the Northern Cape.
“Our major concerns relate to the number of losses as this indicates negligence but also concerning is the number of unknown circumstances, under which such losses occurred. From top management to the lower ranks, the SAPS must ensure that they remain alert and responsible for any firearm allocated to them; failing which, tough actions will be taken against whoever is not complying,” he warned.
These losses were worrying because in some instances they contributed to the escalation of crime.
“Criminals do not require an avalanche of firearms to rob and kill, but one firearm lost by police or civilians, that ends up in the hands of criminals is sufficient for them to commit criminal acts. That is why we also need to ensure that firearms that are in the hands of police officers are properly monitored to avert any loss,” he stressed
Success or failure in the fight against crime was to a large extent dependent on how effectively the tools of trade were managed, Mthethwa said.
“We cannot begin to advocate to society to improve and be responsible with their legal firearms when in fact our own house is not in order,” he added.