Questions about crimes committed using stolen or missing SAPS firearms over the past three years “cannot be responded to”, says national police commissioner Fannie Masemola.
“The circulation of lost/stolen firearms is done on the Enhanced Firearms Register System (EFRS). The Integrated Ballistic Identification System (Ibis) is utilised for firearm testing to determine whether a recovered firearm was used in the commission of a crime,” said Masemola.
In response to a parliamentary question in September, Masemola confirmed that 1 725 SAPS firearms had been lost over the past three years – 271 during April and July last year; 742 in the 2022/2023 financial year, and 712 in the preceding financial year 2021/2022.
The DA’s Okkie Terblanche, who asked the question, said they would probe further on the updated figures since July 2023 and links to gun crimes.
Gun safety awareness NGO, Gun Free South Africa (GFSA), called on the government to redouble its efforts to recover and destroy all illegal firearms.
Claire Taylor, a researcher for GFSA, said the latest stats “shine a light on a small part of a much bigger picture of where guns used to commit most gun violence in SA come from”.
“The easy availability of guns in South Africa has led to an epidemic of gun violence in which 31 people are shot and killed every day in the country.
We urgently need two key weapons and ammunition interventions to stop this bloodbath. First, co-ordinated efforts to recover and destroy illegal guns, and second, closing the taps from which legal guns are leaking into the illegal pool, which requires tightening controls over legal firearms,” said Taylor.
GFSA also wants the government to establish specialised firearms units to recover and destroy illegal firearms.
They have also urged that the Central Firearms Registry be able to track every single gun owned by civilians and the state “from cradle to grave”.
Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union provincial secretary Pat Raolane said any losses and thefts of firearms compromised the safety of communities.
“We agree that there must be a clampdown on illegal guns. We are hopeful, coming from a policing indaba last year, that the documents we produced can assist in making sure we do not have a compromised security system.”