Unabridged statement: Ministry of Police on police firearms losses


Minister condemns loss of firearms, applauds recovery of some

PRETORIA – 01 June 2010.  The Minister of Police, Nathi Mthethwa today expressed his unhappiness with the unacceptably high number of firearms that are lost in the hands of police officers. 

The Minister’s remarks come amid recent disturbing reports of loss of firearms at the Inanda Police Station in KwaZulu-Natal last week.  The following provinces; KwaZulu-Natal, Western Cape, Eastern Cape and Mpumalanga have experienced unacceptably higher percentages.  He has accordingly called for tightened measures to ensuring greater accountability and responsibility over firearms in the hands of our police officers. 

When this problem was detected in early February this year, the South African Police Service (SAPS) immediately introduced an Integrated Ballistics Identification System (IBIS) system.  The implications of the IBIS approach are that officers need to account for each and every firearm allocated to them.  If it goes missing, whether through negligence or ulterior motives, each officer will be held accountable. 
“As reported in February this year two hundred and seventy five (275) firearms have been recovered for the 2009/2010 financial year.  Comparatively a total of two hundred and ninety (290) firearms have been recovered during the 2008/2009 financial year,” stated Minister Mthethwa.  
“While we are beginning to see a steady progress in the recovery of the lost firearms, we are still not entirely satisfied.  Until we come to a zero ratio in firearms lost in the hands of police, we shall continue to tighten the screws and accordingly ensure harsher punishments to those found guilty. I have repeatedly stated that we are serious about ensuring that police officers take greater responsibility for their firearms.  To this end I have asked the Civilian Secretariat for Police to monitor this matter and report to me as a matter of urgency.”
“In addition the recent arrest of police officers at the Inanda police station as well as the subsequent removal of its station commander pending an internal investigation by General Bheki Cele, sends a strong message that we will no longer tolerate such negligent behavior.”

Since the introduction of the IBIS, up to date a total of 6 499 specimens have been acquired on the national database of ballistics.  Commenting on whether any action has been taken against members of the SAPS who have lost their firearms, the Minister stated that actions were taken against such members.  “In fact, at the Durban Central satellite police station last year where 15 firearms were lost, two police officers were convicted by the court of law.  But the department instituted its own investigations and these officers were ultimately dismissed from the Service.”

A total number of employees charged  in terms of the SAPS discipline regulations were 30; 15 were found guilty and there are 9 pending cases from 1 April 2009 to 31 March 2009.  In the last financial year 2008/2009, 26 were charged, 18 found guilty, 3 not guilty in a disciplinary enquiry and 4 were withdrawn.                

For enquiries, please contact:

Zweli Mnisi, Ministerial Spokesperson 082 045 4024

Issued by the Ministry of Police.