We need new gun and liquor laws to curb crime – KZN police chief

KZN police top brass blame policing laws for spiralling crime levels in the country. | Armand Hough /Independent Newspapers

KZN police top brass blame policing laws for spiralling crime levels in the country. | Armand Hough /Independent Newspapers

Published May 16, 2024


Durban — KwaZulu-Natal police commissioner Lieutenant-General Nhlanhla Mkhwanazi has called on the public to vote for leaders who will change policing laws to enable the police to fight crime effectively.

Mkhwanazi was in the hot seat on Tuesday during an eNCA town hall election debate which focused on crime in the province. He faced a barrage of questions from angry community members about the police’s failure to deal with crime.

The general said he was happy because people would be voting on May 29, adding that he was hoping that they would vote for people who would change policing laws which he said hindered the police in dealing with crime effectively.

He said legislation needed to be changed to end crime and singled out gun control and liquor acts as main contributors to crime.

Explaining how these acts hindered the police’s efforts to fight crime, Mkhwanazi said most of the illegal firearms that police confiscated had once been legally owned.

Criminals accessed them by either breaking into homes and stealing them or robbing the owners. He added that the act controlling the issuing of gun licences could be amended and made stricter to minimise gun ownership. He said this would reduce the number of guns that ended up in criminals’ hands.

Mkhwanazi added that the act should not allow rifles or automatic guns, but limit ownership to a pistol.

“Many of these guns had their serial numbers scratched, which means they were legally owned. In the country, there are people who own big guns that can shoot an animal from 200m using a telescope. So, if they can shoot an animal at that distance what can stop them from shooting a human being from the same distance?

“There is no reason for those guns and the licence should be limited to a pistol,” said Mkhwanazi.

His criticism of legal owners was sharply challenged by a participant, Musa Dlamini, who defended the legal ownership of guns, saying he had his licensed gun for over 20 years but had never killed anyone. Rather, he had saved many lives with it.

Dlamini argued that, with the high crime rate in the country, licensed gun owners were needed by the police to assist them in fighting crime.

“I take issue with what you are saying, commissioner. Police cannot fight crime alone, so they need us as licensed gun holders. How do I respond to a neighbour’s call if he is being attacked without my gun?”

The head of eThekwini Neighbourhood Watch, Njabulo Mgeyane, one of the panellists, expressed concern that the police said they did not recognise them, yet they had contributed to the reduction of crime rates in eThekwini.

Mkhwanazi also expressed concern that the province had no DNA laboratory.

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