The fact that the guns used in last month’s deadly attack on the Ngcobo police station had been stolen from the South African Police Service (SAPS) is a tragic wakeup call to the dangers of unsecured weapons to all citizens in the Eastern Cape.
It is a double tragedy that the firearms belonging to the SAPS were used against its members.
Every effort must be taken by the SAPS to ensure that police firearm are safeguarded and recovered. Every lost or stolen firearm becomes a weapon in the hands of criminals who slaughter countless innocent victims in this province.
Last year, it emerged that from the 2015/16 financial year up to 2017/18, a total of 297 firearms belonging to the SAPS in the Eastern Cape were either reported missing or stolen from police stations, while only 48 were recovered, according to a reply to legislature questions I had asked the MEC for Safety and Liaison, Weziwe Tikana. In addition, 57 of the missing firearms were lost by SAPS members and another 129 were stolen from members.
The SAPS needs to be disarming criminals and not arming them.
The DA’s Shadow Minister for Police, Zakhele Mbhele MP, and I visited the Ngcobo police station shortly after the attack, on February 22, where we met with various high-ranking members of the SAPS, including the Provincial Commissioner, Station Commissioner and Cluster Commander to convey our condolences on behalf of the DA.
We have to give the SAPS our support by ensuring that we have a well-resourced, well-trained and disciplined police service.
Twice-yearly inspections, physical verification of firearms at each station and safes supplied to “needy stations” is not enough.
I have submitted follow-up questions to MEC Tikana, which will be addressed at the next oral reply session of the legislature.
Serious steps must be taken against SAPS members who are found to have been careless in losing or having their firearms stolen. A lack of discipline, accountability and consequence management are the root cause of this negligence.
The DA is committed to bringing Total Change to the Eastern Cape, by ensuring that the people of the province are safe in their homes, places of work and the community.
Bobby Stevenson, MPL
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