Audit report paints damning picture of Msunduzi Municipality’s firearm management

An audit report has revealed shortcomings of the Msunduzi Municipality’s firearm management. File Picture: Pixabay.

An audit report has revealed shortcomings of the Msunduzi Municipality’s firearm management. File Picture: Pixabay.

Published Oct 6, 2023


Durban - A report looking into the Msunduzi Municipality’s management of its firearms has painted a damning picture of shocking security lapses, including that 14 firearms were allegedly stolen in one day.

The 14 are part of a list of 29 firearms that have been reported stolen from the municipality between 2008 and 2019.

The report comes as the police said the escalation of crime in the country led to their members being targeted by criminals who steal their firearms.

The SAPS revealed recently that more than 700 firearms were lost or stolen in the past financial year.

The police said one of the reasons for the loss of so many guns was that they were stolen from members of the SAPS who were being targeted for their weapons.

The report on Msunduzi, entitled “Final internal audit report on management of firearms”, compiled by the municipality’s internal audit unit and tabled before the municipal public accounts committee (Mpac) last month, painted a picture of the poor management of firearms.

The report said that while 29 municipal firearms were said to have been stolen, police dockets were not opened for all of them.

“Furthermore, we couldn’t find any evidence that the stolen firearms were internally investigated to establish whether the firearms were stolen due to the negligence of officers.

“We also noted that of the 25 firearms said to have been stolen, 14 appear to have been stolen in one day as they have a similar case number.”

The report also said the municipality did not have a procedure on firearm management-related processes aligned to the firearms-related laws and this needed to be developed.

It also found that the firearms were not properly secured as the site had limited security, the security guards were not armed, the cameras were not working, the electric fence was also not working and there were too many entry and exit doors and some were not locked.

Municipal spokesperson Ntobeko Mkhize said the matter pertaining to the management of firearms was confidential and could not be discussed in the media.

However, she said there was an action plan that was developed, addressing all the issues that were part of the report.

“We can confirm that there is drastic improvement in terms of the issues that are part of the action plan.”

Meanwhile, police said that they were worried about the escalation of crime against officers and that apart from guns being stolen from officers, others were being stolen from stations.

“In 2022/23, 742 firearms owned by the SAPS were confirmed as stolen or lost, which is 142 more than the set target of 600.

“The loss of SAPS-owned firearms can be attributed to various factors, including the escalation of crime against members, including, but not limited to, robbery in townships or other places, housebreaking, theft from offices/stores, negligent loss by members and the loss of property during motor vehicle accidents.

“The Provisioning Administration System was improved to ensure the accuracy of data and to facilitate the reporting of lost or stolen firearms.

“The certification and biannual inspections of firearms are in place to prevent losses. When incidents involving lost firearms occur, relevant legal requirements are being implemented,” said the police in the annual report that was tabled in Parliament.

Gareth Newham, of the Institute for Security Studies, said the issue of firearm management had been an ongoing concern for many years.

He said one of the key concerns was the state of the firearm registry which was managed by the SAPS.

Newham said calls had been made for an online registry system which would make it easier to track and trace firearms.

“It’s a big concern that police are losing around 700 firearms a year because those firearms would typically end up in the hands of criminals,” he said, adding that this was one of many indications of deteriorating police capacity in the SAPS.