File picture: Zanele Zulu/Independent Media
Pietermartzburg – KwaZulu-Natal Community Safety and Liaison MEC Mxolisi Kaunda says the proliferation of illegal firearms, illegal and unregulated shebeens and drugs constitute an “axis of evil” which are key drivers of crime in the province.

He said this as he tabled the department’s R203 million budget before Members of the Provincial Legislature (MPLs) on Thursday.

Kaunda told MPLs that 3 325 firearms were recovered between April and December 2016 and the 717 guns recovered between January and February this year, illustrating the problem with firearms.

“Equally frightening is that an analysis done in 2016 indicates that of people killed, 35 percent of them were killed using guns”, said Kaunda who added that government was duty bound to do something about this state of killer illegal firearms.

There are fears that such guns are used in the commission of crimes such as robberies, politically linked killings and faction fights. The availability of guns, the MEC continued, was stretching the police force to the limit in the province where each officer is responsible for 469 people.

“Our society produces a lot of criminals which keeps our understaffed service very busy and is exacerbated by the targeting of our officers who are killed and maimed by criminals,” the MEC told MPLs.

In the 2015/2016 financial year, a total of 211 000 people were arrested, 124 000 were arrested for serious crimes. Another scary finding, the MEC, told MPLs was that in 2015/16, 70 percent of murder victims were between the ages of 16 and 40 years while 78 percent of suspects were between the 18-40 age group.

The source of concern for the MEC was that drug traffickers were targeting young people which was reflected by the death of several learners in Durban last year. Inkatha Freedom Party MPL Blessed Gwala said Kaunda and his department officials must take drastic steps to curb the tide of guns which posed a threat to every citizen in the province.

MPLs across the political divide conceded that the department’s allocation was a drop in the ocean when considering the tasks of the department, mainly ensuring that KZN citizens are safe.