Police get tough on firearm controls

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Pretoria - The Police Ministry, in efforts to improve firearm control and curb losses, has tasked the Police Inspectorate with monitoring the South African Police Service's firearm management.

Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa made the announcement about the Inspectorate's new responsibilities in Parliament on Wednesday.

The Inspectorate is a unit that investigates and ensures that all instructions are adhered to and implemented.

"In addition to various corrective measures which we are currently implementing, I have instructed the police management to ensure that each time a police officer loses his or her firearm, there must be a full investigation into the circumstances surrounding the loss. 

"To this end, I have now instructed that the Police Inspectorate be tasked with the responsibility of conducting such investigations," he said.

Police were also looking to a situation where a further firearm would not be issued to a SAPS member pending the outcome of a thorough investigation by the Inspectorate. 

This investigation could lead to criminal charges and or dismissal from the SAPS, as well as the person being declared incompetent to carry a firearm, Mthethwa said.

He told Parliament that 1 497 police officers, who lost their firearms since 2005, had been issued with new firearms. 

Remedial measures have been implemented by the Ministry to put an end to the violation of firearm safety at police stations. This includes constant inspections, as well as assessments and interventions at the various levels of command to ensure pro-active deterrence. 

"Unless we begin to zoom into the issue of firearm safety, both by police and civilians, we will still be faced with a challenge of legally-registered firearms falling into the wrong hands of the criminals. 

"That is precisely why we are looking, on a daily basis, at measures to improve this area. We need to know where our firearms are, who is in charge of them and under what circumstances are they being utilised," the Minister added.