Police guns shouldn’t be the first guns to disappear

By Jane Sithole, MPL, Spokesperson on Community Safety and Security:

The Democratic Alliance (DA) is deeply concerned by recent reports that Mpumalanga police officers were robbed of their service firearms in two separate occasions last week.

The number of Police men and women being robbed of their firearms is on the increase, and the police show little initiative to limit this trend.

According to media reports, three armed men disarmed two police officers from KwaMhlanga police station on Thursday after attending to a domestic incident near the Moloto road. In a separate incident, it was reported just last week that eight armed men stormed into the Verena police station near eMalahleni and made the police officers lie down on the floor before taking their cellphones and firearms.

These incidents highlights a serious challenge for the South African Police Service (SAPS). The inability of the police to safeguard their weapons fuels violent crime by placing the weapons in the hands of criminals.

The office of Provincial Police Commissioner, Lieutenant General Mark Magadlela, confirmed in June this year that at least 214 firearms were either lost or stolen from the Mpumalanga police within the last three financial years from 2011/2012 to 2013/2014.

Those 214 firearms no doubt rest now in the hands of criminals. The latest incidents this week have placed even more guns in the wrong hands.

Police firearms that are lost and stolen must be replaced at great cost, and it seems there is no strategy from police management to prevent this. Not only do lost cop guns fuel further crime, but they cost the tax-payer increasing money every year.

A more comprehensive strategy and training to safeguard the tools of trade for our men and women in blue is needed. When police officers are robbed, where does that leave ordinary citizens? The public’s confidence in the police is taking a knock and swift action is needed to restore this.

The DA believes that, in order to win the war on crime, a highly trained and professional police force must be restored. South Africa need a police force that is equipped with the necessary skills and resources to protect not only communities but themselves and to finally turn the tide against crime.