DESTROYED: Some of the firearms which have been seized by police since February are hoisted by crane to be destroyed in Prospecton, KwaZulu-Natal. Picture: Zanele Zulu
Cape Town - Poor weapon stockpile management and record-keeping has led to an increase in gun violence in the country, and particularly in the province.

Gun Free SA’s Ronald Menoe said under the UN Programme of Action to prevent, combat and eradicate the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons, the country is obligated to destroy surplus firearms. 

This includes surrendered, confiscated and obsolete weapons held by police and other authorities. Menoe, said destroying gun stocks stops the influx of guns into the illegal market.

“Guns don’t expire, they can be used repeatedly to commit crimes and kill innocent people.”

He said gun violence was spiralling out of control on the Cape Flats, superseding knives as the leading murder weapon.

Menoe referenced the Christiaan Prinsloo case. Prinsloo, a former police colonel, was sentenced to 18 years for selling confiscated or surrendered guns to gangsters.

“Ballistic testing has linked 888 of Prinsloo’s guns to 1066 murders in the Western Cape, including the deaths of 89 children. Of the2400 guns Prinsloo admitted to stealing as part of his plea bargain, more than 1100 have still not been recovered,” said Menoe. The SA Arms and Ammunition Dealers Association said it had no confidence in the police’s stockpile management ability.

“History shows that many of these will end up in the hands of criminals and gangsters. The cost and effort required to take in these firearms and ammunition, manage and store them, conduct ballistic testing and ultimately destroy them is simply not justified. There is no benefit to society at large. In fact, such fruitless and wasteful expenditure harms society by wasting police resources that should be directed toward fighting real crime,” the association said.

UCT’s Safety and Violence Initiative director, Dr Guy Lamb, said from 2009 to 2013, deaths caused by firearms had increased from 13.2% to 24.2%.

“Cape Town has a significant problem with firearm stockpile management,” he said.

Lamb said at least three police stations in the Cape were targeted for weapons.

“Not many of the firearms stolen were retrieved,” said Lamb.

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Cape Argus