Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa says he is pleased that more than 32 000 firearms were recovered across the country as part of a firearms amnesty that ended Sunday. The largest number of firearms was recovered in Gauteng, followed by Kwazulu-Natal and the Western Cape respectively.
Mthethwa said the figures were encouraging, considering that the provinces experienced the highest level of violent crime, much of which involved firearms.
Speaking to reporters, Mthethwa said of the 32 169 firearms surrendered at 240 police stations throughout the amnesty period that started in January, 27% were illegal, the state BuaNews agency reports. The minister described the campaign “as a success story in the battle against crime and illegal weapons.”
There were fears at the start of the campaign that people would be skeptical to hand in their illegal firearms due to the ballistic tests that are conducted to determine whether the firearm was used in any form of crime. But Mthethwa said the number of firearms voluntary surrendered pointed to “ill-information by some quarters of society.
“Our figures indicate that 53% of these (firearms) were voluntarily surrendered. This is most pleasing because prior to the launch of the amnesty there were already doubts on whether people will surrender legal firearms”. Furthermore, police also recovered about 348 083 rounds of ammunition with 24% of them illegal while 52 were voluntary and another 24% confiscated during crime intelligence operations.
Mthethwa said the strategy adopted by the police throughout the period was also to ensure that the process was accompanied by intensified and focused police operations in the form of road blocks and search and seizures. This led to 21% of the firearms recovered during this period coming from such operations.
One of the provisions of the amnesty declaration was that all illegal firearms surrendered during the amnesty period be destroyed within six months. Mthethwa said between January and April this year, an estimated 109 582 firearms were destroyed adding that this contributed to public confidence in the process.