DA slams ‘shoddy firearm management’ by police

The police are “unwittingly fuelling the illegal arms trade” by ordering thousands of new pistols to replace those that have been lost or stolen, the Democratic Alliance said on Wednesday.

Dianne Kohler Barnard said 4 000 new pistols ordered by the South African Police Service (SAPS) were not to boost firepower, but “mostly to replace lost and stolen firearms”.

“As revealed on the Armscor website, the ordering of 4 000 new Beretta pistols means that another R16-million is being spent by the police on procuring weapons,” Kohler Barnard said.

“However, we understand this order is almost entirely as a consequence of the fact that nearly 3 000 police firearms were lost or stolen over a period of just six months last year.”

Kohler Barnard said the loss of the weapons was as a result of “shoddy firearm management” by the police.

“Last October, it was revealed that 2 944 firearms had been lost or stolen from the police — approximately three firearms lost or stolen from each station in the country,” Kohler Barnard said.

“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 police firearms in recent years.”

Kohler Barnard said in 2008, there were 2 507 lost and stolen firearms, compared with 1 923 in 2007.

“Even more concerning is that these firearms inevitably fall into the wrong hands and are used in criminal activities. As police firearms are lost and stolen and then replaced at great cost, with seemingly no action from police management to prevent this, the police are unwittingly fuelling the illegal arms trade.” — Sapa

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