Thousands of police firearms lost, stolen — or left in the bathroom
Police Minister Fikile Mbalula has detailed how thousands of police firearms have been lost or stolen over the past three years.
Responding to a parliamentary question from the DA’s Zak Mbhele‚ Mbalula said 743 weapons were lost or stolen in 2014-15‚ 767 in 2015-16 and 760 in 2016-17.
While the majority of the weapons are detailed as having been stolen from police officers on duty‚ from their homes or vehicles, and from the South African Police Service (SAPS) store‚ others appear to have been carelessly lost.
In 2014-15‚ 12 guns were left in toilets or bathrooms; in 2015-16‚ nine weapons were lost this way; with the number at 14 in 2016-17. Over the three year period‚ 10 guns were lost by police officers under the influence of alcohol‚ and four more were stolen in scenarios where liquor was involved.
Of guns, which officers had properly locked up, 427 were stolen during house break-ins, while 21, which had not been locked up, were also stolen.
While Fikile’s response did not cover statistics for the current financial year‚ there have been several big losses reported so far this year. In July‚ 13 guns went missing from the Ngangelizwe station in the Eastern Cape‚ while 32 disappeared from two police stations in Cape Town in August.
At the time‚ Deputy Police Minister Bongani Mkongi said police officers were selling the guns to gangsters. "They did not just disappear. They were stolen by our own members. There are SAPS officers stealing guns and giving them to the gangs. It is an inside job. We know this is happening. How do you explain police officers going to parties of gang lords? Of course you are going to lose your firearms‚ because the guns are being stolen."