The South African Police have revealed that about 2 200 SAPS firearms were stolen or went missing in the past three financial years. This was in answer to a parliamentary question by DA MP Zak Mbhele.
Albeit thin on context, the ministry’s figures show that in the 2014/15 financial year almost 70 police firearms went missing.
Of this, 12 went missing from bathrooms and at least five went missing while the police officer was under the influence of alcohol.
In the same financial year 612 service firearms were reported stolen, mainly through robberies in township areas and house break-ins. A further 79 firearms have not been classified, meaning it is not clear if they were stolen or missing.
In the following two financial years a total of 160 firearms went missing of which 21 vanished from bathrooms. The figures also show that in these two financial years at least five police officers were drunk when their firearms went missing.
Over the same period just over 1,200 firearms were reported stolen and further 204 firearms are yet to be classified as either missing or stolen over this period.
Most of the incidents occurred in KwaZulu-Natal, Gauteng and the Eastern Cape. According to the ministry only 11 pistols and two shotguns have been recovered since April this year, miniscule compared to the thousands of firearms lost.
DA MP Dianne Kohler-Barnard, in a statement, said this 8% increase over this period is “unacceptable as it makes a mockery of the fight against crime”.
“Gun violence remains one of South Africa’s top crime categories and SAPS cannot continue to turn a blind eye to disappearing firearms from its police stations.”
According to Kohler-Barnard the DA will submit further questions to determine how many of the lost or stolen firearms have since been linked to crimes.
She said this showed “carelessness and neglect” on the part of SAPS. “We cannot have a police service that is aiding and abetting criminal activity due to negligence.”