Portfolio Committee suspends meeting with police top brass over inaccurate firearm statistics
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Durban - THE Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Police decided to suspend its meeting with the South African Police Service (SAPS) and demanded that they be given the correct firearms amnesty statistics after the SAPS delivered inaccurate statistics to the committee.
The meeting was scheduled to receive a final report on the number of firearms surrendered during the firearms amnesties.
Yesterday (Tuesday), the SAPS was supposed to deliver a report on the firearms amnesty period which fell between August 1, 2020 and January 31, 2021, and the initial firearms amnesty for the period December 1, 2019 to May 31, 2020.
During the first firearms amnesty, 27 336 firearms, 212 476 items of ammunition and 798 firearm components were also surrendered.
Committee chairperson Tina Joemat-Pettersson said: “We have decided as the committee that due to the inconsistencies in statistics given to the committee, that the SAPS must be given time to reconcile its numbers and present accurate and reliable statistics to the committee. This will ensure transparency and effective oversight by the committee on the work of the SAPS.”
She said the committee was critical of the discrepancies in statistics and highlighted how these shortcomings affect its oversight work, and further highlighted the implications of giving incorrect information to Parliament.
“I expect the report of this amnesty, a detailed report, to be given to me. Reconcile your figures. Please, if you give me figures, do not give me incorrect figures,” Joemat-Pettersson said to the SAPS.
On Monday, the SAPS Central Firearm Registry (CFR) announced that firearm licence applications were delayed. The applications for licences regarding surrendered firearms during the amnesty period compounded the situation after the total number of firearm licence applications increased by more than 80% for the duration of amnesty.
Moreover, the committee raised serious concerns regarding the firearm licence backlog at the CFR. The concern is premised on the assurance of the availability of a plan of action to deal with challenges that the SAPS management had given to the committee prior to the approval of the amnesty.
“It is thus concerning that only 280 applications were processed for the 2020/21 amnesty against 30 356 applications made. This, according to the committee, is an indictment on the work of the SAPS,” said Joemat-Pettersson.
During the meeting, Joemat-Pettersson also instructed Deputy Minister of Police Cassel Mathale and SAPS national commissioner General Khehla Sitole to visit the CFR, which has a huge backlog.
The committee said after the visit, Mathale and Sitole were required to table a report on the challenges at the CFR and proposed action plans to resolve the challenges.
The committee would also visit the CFR in efforts to oversee the implementation of the recommendations that will be made by Mathale and Sitole.
Joemat-Pettersson said the amnesty period could not be extended, which meant that another amnesty period was needed, even though the police had already been granted two amnesties.
She also said the committee had asked for monthly reports, but the SAPS had not delivered.
Mathale said he could not agree that nothing had happened during the amnesty.
“There are arms that were returned. There might be inaccuracies, but that does not necessarily mean nothing happened. We will go and look at the things that were raised and make sure that we reconcile,” said Mathale.
The committee said they would reschedule the meeting for a later date and time.