More than 400 government-issued firearms lost or stolen

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More than 400 government-issued firearms and thousands of rounds of ammunition have been lost or stolen in the past five years. This was revealed in a written parliamentary question from the Freedom Front Plus, to the Defence and Military Veterans Minister Thandi Modise, Police Minister Bheki Cele and Correctional Services Minister Ronald Lamola.

Party leader, Pieter Groenewald says he’s concerned that government could become a major source of firearms supply to criminals.

These firearms and ammunition were lost or stolen from the financial year 2019/20 through to the 2023/24. A total of 357 firearms and 148 rounds of ammunition belonging to SAPS were stolen from firearms stores country wide.

Firearms were also stolen at the Department of Correctional Services, and nearly 300 rounds of ammunition were lost.

The Department of Defence and Military Veterans lost 47 firearms, which include 32 R-four rifles.

The Freedom Front Plus says these figures are disturbing considering gun-related murders in the country.

“Much pressure is put on private, legal firearm owners by government, but the government itself is a source of providing illegal firearms to criminals in South Africa and it is clear from that, that there is no proper firearms control,” says Groenewald.

A nonprofit organization, Gun Free South Africa says in the same period, civilians reported the loss or theft of over 25 000 guns. The organization says the easy availability of guns calls for legislative amendments to tighten loopholes.

“We urgently need two interventions to stop the blood bath one coordinated efforts to recover and destroy illegal guns and secondly, closing the taps from which legal guns are leaking into illegal pool,” says Claire Taylor, Researcher: Gun Free South Africa.

According to the reply, none of the six culprits arrested for SAPS firearms theft were SAPS members while 19 officials of the Department of Correctional Services were found guilty after a disciplinary process.

The ministers say they are implementing steps to tighten measure to prevent further theft or losses.

Firearms Control | Claire Taylor on the gun violence epidemic in South Africa