Where are the missing bullets?

Municipal manager Sthembiso Ntombela said it had become necessary to seek the services of experts on the matter.

Municipal manager Sthembiso Ntombela said it had become necessary to seek the services of experts on the matter.

Published May 20, 2024


Durban — The Endumeni Municipality will soon enlist the services of an independent auditor focusing on the arms and ammunition owned by the municipality.

This comes as questions remain on the whereabouts of the more than a thousand rounds of ammunition which includes that of pistols, revolvers and shotguns which was recently found to be missing from the municipality’s safe.

The revelation was made when a senior traffic official was suspended and asked to hand over his service pistol.

Speaking to The Sunday Tribune this week municipal manager Sthembiso Ntombela said it had become necessary to seek the services of experts on the matter.

“Firstly, the matter must be presented to an internal audit in the municipality and then we will seek services from outside,“ said Ntombela.

Local government expert and former eThekwini municipal manager Mike Sutcliffe stressed the importance of accountability when it comes to guns and ammunition.

He cited the Firearms Control Act which stipulates that institutions should ensure that guns are given to properly trained individuals who have undergone an assessment. In addition to this, the law makes provision for the missing items to be reported to the nearest police station.

“What I do know is that municipal police do not have direct powers to arrest and that would restrict who gets access to guns. Clearly all guns and bullets would have to be registered in a registry and every gun and bullet accounted for against an individual who signs it out and is regularly checked,” said Sutcliffe.

A seasoned municipal officer who asked not to be named said the vanishing of such a high volume of ammunition was an anomaly which warranted an investigation.

He explained that while at municipalities the traffic officers’ duties entailed crowd control, the issuing of guns to traffic officers was meant to ensure their safety when conducting their duties.

“For instance, it may happen that there is a car chase between police and suspected armed robbers, when the officers stop the vehicle there is a good chance that they could be met with force. So the guns with live ammunition are meant for such a purpose,” he said.

The officer pointed out that this was the reason that officers filed reports explaining incidents in which bullets had been used as a form of accountability and stressed the importance for the officers to undergo a guns competency exercise as part of ensuring the proper use of the weapons.

He added that the Firearms Responsible Person when issuing a hand gun to the legible person/ officer received:

  • 1 firearm
  • 1 magazine with 15 rounds of ammunition and
  • 1 spare magazine with 15 rounds of ammunition

“These will be signed on the A7 and or A8 release and return books which are kept in the armoury at all material times under the authority of Firearms Responsible Person of the said municipality,” said the officer.

The suspended traffic officer would not be drawn into discussing his suspension or the bullets missing under his watch. “Please contact the municipal manager for any media statement,” he said in a brief response.

The traffic official got suspended after it emerged that he apparently got his son to wear a traffic officers’ uniform and to allegedly conduct official duties during lockdown - an accusation which carries a serious charge of impersonating an officer which carries the sentence of a fine of even imprisonment.

Sunday Tribune