By Jane Sithole, MPL, Spokesperson on Community Safety and Security:
At least 214 firearms were either lost or stolen from the Mpumalanga police force within the last three financial years as confirmed by the office of the Provincial Police Commissioner.
In an oral reply dated 12 May 2015 to questions raised by the Democratic Alliance, Provincial Police Commissioner Lieutenant General Mark Magadlela said of the 214 firearms that went missing, 107 were stolen and 107 were lost by members of the SAPS.
Magadlela acknowledged that of the missing 214 firearms, 78 went missing in 2011/2012, 70 in 2012/2013, and 66 in 2013/2014. He said only 139 were recovered in that period.
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Firearm loss and theft is the most significant source of illegal guns in South Africa. This problem seems to only be increasing and places the lives of ordinary South Africans at risk by adding to the number of weapons in circulation on our streets.
The DA has requested the MEC for Community Safety and Security, Vusi Shongwe, to urgently launch an investigation into the loss of firearms in the hands of the police. The DA has also requested MEC Shongwe to overhaul the police force’s firearm management system and policies.
It is clear that the current police firearm management system and policy is not succeeding in ensuring that police firearms are properly managed and accounted for.
Firearms in the hands of the police should be recorded and tracked properly. If our Police men and women cannot exercise discipline, who should the community turn to? The gross negligence of losing a firearm should not be taken lightly and should be dealt with swiftly. MEC Shongwe must treat this matter with the due consideration it deserves.