Minister of Police Nathi Mthethwa has applauded and welcomed the harsh sentence given to one of those convicted last week for the theft of 98 firearms from the Inanda police station last month.
Six people were arrested by the police’s Directorate of Priority Crimes Investigation, known as the “Hawks”. Four of the 98 firearms have been recovered and the investigation is still continuing, Mthethwa says. The station’s commander has since been removed from his post.
Thulisani Trevor Mfeka, 29, an exhibit clerk at the station pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 20 years imprisonment in the Durban Regional Court on Friday. The remaining five appeared in court last Wednesday and were granted bail of R3000 each. “We welcome this sentence as it sends a strong message that we are serious about fighting corruption and crime,” Mthethwa says. “When we spoke about cleaning the force of a few rotten apples that may be within, some of the sceptics thought we were just grandstanding and seeking to create media headlines. We further compliment the Justice and Constitutional Development for their swift action in ensuring that justice is carried out swiftly,” the minister adds.
Mthethwa recently told Parliament that 2603 firearms were stolen from police or lost by them in the last year, taking to 13 438 the total over the past five. Democratic Alliance police shadow minister Dianne Kohler Barnard said in response the outcome of this “is that police negligence is actively fuelling crime.” She said at the same time, the police service is spending enormous sums replacing firearms – “money that could be spent elsewhere in fighting crime. An example of this is the tender put out in January of this year to purchase 4000 new pistols at a cost of R16 million.”