Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa.

Johannesburg - Police officers who continuously and recklessly lose their firearms will be fired from the South African Police Service, the minister of police said on Monday.

Minister Nathi Mthethwa made the remark with reference to a Parliamentary reply to lost, stolen and recovered guns for 2009/2010, spokesperson Zweli Mnisi said in a statement.

According to the reply, SAPS lost 3 453 (guns) and recovered 1 210 while civilians lost 8 498 firearms and 3 985 were recovered during the 2009/2010 period, the statement read.

“Firearms form part of the resources that are given to police in order to enable them to fight crime effectively. Part of the responsibility is to ensure that those who are allocated these resources handle them with caution and utmost responsibility.”

The minister said that if a gun was lost due to negligence, a police officer would be considered incompetent to carry a gun, which would make them redundant in carrying out duties.

“The obvious thing would be to relieve them of their duties,” Mthethwa said.

Mnisi said the minister was concerned that only half of the guns lost by civilians were recovered.

“We want to urge society to exercise necessary caution to ensure that legally acquired firearms do not end up in the hands of criminals.

“Much as we shall be tough on our members, we shall also be hard on any member of the public who loses his or her firearm,” he said.

The ministry had started rolling out an Integrated Ballistics Identification System (IBIS) to ensure greater control of guns in the country.

Mnisi said IBIS would hold police officers to account for every gun allocated to them. - Sapa