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Hundreds of firearm-evidence stolen from police

A total of 357 firearms which were stored as evidence in the police’s SAP 13 storerooms countrywide have been stolen since the 2020/21 financial year. So far, only six private persons have been arrested in connection with this.

This raises the question of what became of the court cases in which the evidence was supposed to have been used.

It is reasonable to assume that firearms are mainly used in perpetrating serious offences, such as murder and robbery, and without the evidence the chances of successful court cases are very slim.

The information was gleaned from replies by the Minister of Police, Bheki Cele, to questions about the matter by Dr Pieter Groenewald, leader of the FF Plus. (Questions and replies are attached herewith.)

The FF Plus has serious misgivings about the fact that not a single police member has been apprehended. It is hard to see how hundreds of firearms could be stolen from well-protected storage facilities without inside help.

The impression it creates is that firearms are stolen so that suspects can avoid being prosecuted and penalised.

This situation shows that the police did not learn anything from the Christiaan Prinsloo incident. Between 2007 and 2015, Prinsloo, a former police colonel, facilitated the theft of more than 2 000 firearms from police custody before selling it to gangs.

By 2016, some of the 2 000 stolen firearms had been linked to the deaths of 89 children while another 170 children had been wounded by them. Prinsloo reportedly only served three years and ten months of an eighteen-year sentence.

In his reply to the FF Plus, the Minister listed a number of precautionary measures that have recently been introduced to prevent the theft of firearms from police custody.

These include compulsory security standards for SAP 13 storerooms and safes, new prescriptions for building such storage facilities, and the extensive and comprehensive use of technology.

These precautionary measures are clearly not effective and the FF Plus will make further enquiries to determine to what extent they have been implemented in practice or whether they are simply plans on paper.

While government itself is putting illegal firearms and ammunition in the hands of dangerous criminals, there are efforts to disarm lawful, private firearm owners.

This situation serves as a valid reason for law-abiding citizens to arm and protect themselves against criminals who, thanks to government, roam free and have no shortage of firearms.

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