A shortage of ammunition in the SAPS stores has meant that police officers are unable to complete their firearm-proficiency tests. Picture: EPA/Kim Ludbrook
Cape Town - A shortage of ammunition in the SAPS stores has meant that police officers are unable to complete their firearm-proficiency tests.

This comes as several police officers said they were not carrying their service weapons because they had not completed their annual firearm-proficiency tests. For this reason, they were not issued permits to use their service firearms.

An officer who spoke to the Cape Argus on condition of anonymity said: “My permit has expired, and I was told I could not complete the test because of the shortage of ammunition.

“I cannot carry my service firearm because if I use it, I could face disciplinary action and even possible prosecution. It is safer to leave my weapon at work, but knowing that my life is also in danger,” the officer said.

Senior researcher at the Institute for Security Studies, Johan Burger said: “Denel is only part of the ammunition shortage problem. A lot of ammunition gets stolen and sold to gangs, and several police officers have already been arrested in parts of the country.

“If the SAPS cannot issue permits to police officers that warrant the issuing of a service pistol, then they cannot carry out their operational duties.

“This is a serious threat to the SAPS’s ability to deliver an effective service. You cannot send a police officer not certified to carry a weapon to approach gangsters, hijackers or cash-in-transit robbers, or even allow such officers to perform duties with an officer entitled to carry a firearm.

“The SAPS are sitting with a huge crisis that requires urgent intervention to remedy the situation,” said Burger.

National police spokesperson Vishnu Naidoo confirmed that the SAPS was experiencing a shortage of ammunition due to a manufacturer’s inability to supply the police service.

He added that contingency measures had been put in place to ensure that service delivery was not compromised, until the SAPS received their required ammunition.

Earlier this month. Police Minister Bheki Cele, responding to a parliamentary question, said the SAPS had lost more than 9.5million rounds of ammunition over the past six financial years. During the same period, 4537 firearms were stolen.

Cele also indicated that the greatest quantity of ammunition that went missing in a single year was in the Eastern Cape, where 3.2million rounds of ammunition went missing in 2016/2017.

In North West, 2.2million rounds of ammunition went missing during the 2014/2015 financial year.

Popcru national spokesperson Richard Mamabolo said: “Officers should not use firearms without permits, which means they cannot be deployed to deal with criminals when their lives are vulnerable without any measures of defending themselves."

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