More than 20 000 firearms were destroyed by the police on Tuesday. Picture: SUPPLIED
Cape Town - As the national police destroyed thousands of “illegal” firearms on Tuesday, Community Safety MEC Albert Fritz said the destruction should have been done sooner and those confiscated in the Western Cape destroyed here because of a “potential safety threat”.

Fritz said it was concerning that illegal firearms and ammunition were destroyed in a different province as this may result in a backlog of illegal firearms being destroyed, and “risks these weapons being leaked back into the arsenal of illegal weapons in the province”.

He called on Police Minister Bheki Cele “to urgently identify suitable premises in the Western Cape to fast-track the destruction of illegal firearms”.

National police spokesperson Brenda Muridili said the proliferation of illegal firearms had been dealt a decisive blow as more than half the destroyed firearms were confiscated by the police during intelligence-driven operations, routine stop-and-searches as well as tip-offs from law-abiding citizens.

Muridili said the last national firearm destruction took place on April17 when more than 30000 firearms were melted.

“Yesterday, six months later, the total number destroyed through melting was 23055 which included rifles, shotguns and handguns.”

Gun Free SA welcomed the destruction.

Claire Taylor, a senior researcher at the organisation, said destructions were the only way to guarantee that guns and ammunition did not leak out of police stores and back into communities.

Gun Owners of SA (Gosa) spokesperson Alan Marthezé said that at previous amnesties and destructions, the police had admitted that they were ineffectual against crime, “as it’s purely administrative as no criminals have ever handed in firearms, and that the bulk of the firearms destroyed are legal guns turned over by legal firearm owners and turned ‘illegal’ by paperwork legislation”.

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Cape Argus