Often members of the South African Police Service don’t get a fair shake, and international media outlets have often viewed them negatively.
But then something like this crops up, and you’ve got to wonder what the hell is going on with them.
The Western Cape police aren’t looking so fly right now: they’re having to deal with several firearms that have gone missing from two stations, gangsters being armed with guns that belong to the cops, and on top of that there’s a shortage of ammunition at a shooting practice range.
It’s enough for anyone to explode.
News24 reports that various issues relating to firearms and police officers in the gangster-heavy province have surfaced over several months, and have been unpacked by Police Minister Bheki Cele at a press conference on Monday.
When viewed together, it paints a very bleak picture:
For starters, a total of 65 cop guns in the Western Cape have been lost or stolen in a year:
In Parliament in April, during a meeting on the availability of illegal guns in the province, it emerged that a total of 65 police firearms were either lost, stolen, or officers were robbed of them in the past financial year.
Thirty-eight of these firearms were recovered, meaning the remaining 27 were not.
Then there’s the issue of ammo shortage:
In May, it emerged that, for the 2017 to 2018 period, 4 556 of roughly 16 500 police officers in the province did not complete their firearm competency tests. A competency certificate is an annual requirement for a police officer who carries a firearm.
Great. Wonderful. Soothing to know that the people there to protect us are unqualified to carry a gun, let alone shoot one.
Mireille Wenger, chairperson of the Community Safety Standing Committee in the Western Cape legislature, was provided with the figures in response to a parliamentary question.
“I am informed that there is only one SAPS shooting range complex in the Western Cape, which is situated in Cape Town,” she said.
So, uh, what’s being done about this? Wenger said:
“SAPS noted that a shortage of ammunition at the range was experienced, and that this is being addressed by national head office which has allocated certain ammunition for maintenance shootings.”
Lord, we bloody hope so.
News24 reports that a total of 33 firearms went missing from two police stations – Mitchells Plain and Bellville South – in the province last year.
Lo and behold, some of these “missing” guns were found:
On October 17, police officers, including those from Crime Intelligence in Manenberg, “searched a known adult male gang member” …
It said in this incident a 9mm pistol, as well as 10 rounds of ammunition, which had been stolen in the Mitchells Plain case, were discovered …
On September 12, police officers on patrol in Belhar responded to a complaint – that of a firearm being pointed – and at a residence, they arrested a man who allegedly had drugs and a .357 revolver.
This revolver, according to the Hawks presentation, was one of the firearms stolen from the Bellville South station.
Good start, but the SAPS need to up their game if it means curbing gangsters from using the cops’ own firearms against other people.
Have you kept track of how many sighs you made while reading this?
If you want to find out more about the firearms fiasco, read the full piece here.
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