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Police failed to destroy a single illegal firearm in the Western Cape during the last quarter

Police are fighting an endless battle to get illegal firearms off the street. File picture: Cindy Waxa/African News Agency (ANA) Archives

Police are fighting an endless battle to get illegal firearms off the street. File picture: Cindy Waxa/African News Agency (ANA) Archives

Published May 16, 2023


Cape Town - Less than a week after Gun Free SA (GFSA) lodged a class action suit in the Western Cape High Court seeking damages arising from deaths and injuries due to negligent firearms management, it has emerged that SAPS failed to destroy a single illegal firearm in the province in the first quarter of 2023.

Standing committee on community safety chairperson Gillion Bosman (DA) said the news was “disappointing but unsurprising”.

Bosman sent a written question to Police Oversight and Community Safety MEC Reagen Allen asking how many firearms were confiscated by the SAPS in the first quarter of this year and how many had been destroyed.

In reply, Allen said 699 unlawful firearms had been confiscated but none had been destroyed.

Bosman, who is also his party’s spokesperson on community safety, said they had repeatedly called for the decentralisation of firearm destruction facilities to provincial level.

He said this would enable the timeous destruction of confiscated illegal firearms, thus lessening the risk that they might find their way into the wrong hands.

“However, Police Minister Bheki Cele and national SAPS leadership have resisted these calls.

“As a result, the status quo remains in place, with firearms being stored for months on end in inadequately secured facilities before being sent to destruction facilities in Pretoria only a few times a year.”

Last August, during a briefing to the standing committee regarding progress on the establishment of a destruction site in the Western Cape, it was reported that budgetary constraints meant that the Province could not afford to build its own facility.

Meanwhile, the police said that the maintenance of a firearms destruction facility had its own extremely high budgetary constraints.

However, they refused to discuss this impact on provincial resources with regard to transporting arms and ammunition to Pretoria in open session with the committee. They told the committee the sensitive nature of the process meant that the issue “remains highly confidential”.

Police said they had previously identified and visited a number of facilities in the province but had turned them down as options for a number of reasons.

These options included the Atlantis Foundry, which they found could not accommodate them, and the SA Metal site (Airport Industrial) in Bishop Lavis.

They said they found the latter premises unsuitable and said the company was not interested in assisting.

The police told the committee that they had briefly used the Cisco facility in Kuils River but that services were terminated due to its high risk and legal requirements, and the fact that operational procedures could not be complied with.

In the Prinsloo guns matter, which is expected in court late this year or early in 2024, GFSA’s Founding Affidavit references a range of sources, including the SAPS’s own records.

The affidavit describes in detail how senior SAPS member Christiaan Prinsloo and co-conspirator David Naidoo stole more than 2 000 guns from the confiscated firearms store at Silverton in Pretoria. Prinsloo and Naidoo colluded from 2007 until Prinsloo’s arrest in 2015 to steal and distribute these arms to various criminals, including gang members on the Cape Flats.