Johannesburg - More than 2 000 guns have been stolen from the South African Police Service (SAPS), the Democratic Alliance (DA) said on Tuesday.
DA MP Dianne Kohler Barnard said a reply to a parliamentary question has revealed that "a whopping 2027 guns were stolen from SAPS armouries in the last four years".
She said 602 guns were stolen in 2014/15, 630 in 2015/16, 537 in 2016/17 and 248 since the beginning of April this year.
"The reality is that the SAPS is fuelling the illegal arms trade. Thousands of SAPS firearms have been stolen over the past 20 years, and are out there in the hands of criminals shooting at the police, and at you and me," said Kohler Barnard, who shadows the deputy police minister for the DA.
"This high number of 'missing' firearms goes far beyond the occasional case of negligence and is evidence of a problem that is not unrelated to high levels of corruption and criminality within the SAPS."
She said 4,000 Beretta pistols cost around R18 million, and "that sort of order is made regularly to replace the thousands of firearms disappearing from the SAPS armouries".
Kohler Barnard said the DA will conduct oversight visits to SAPS armouries to pose crucial questions on security arrangements. She said the DA will insist that the police minister orders a full national audit of all SAPS firearms.
"This situation is utterly unacceptable and makes a mockery of the fight against crime. Gun violence continues to be one of the country’s top categories of crime," said the DA legislator.
"It cannot be the case that the custodians of our safety and security are worsening crime because of gross negligence and poor security measures. This only gives the public less reason to trust the police."