According to FF Plus leader Pieter Groenewald, South African police stations have become a convenient source for criminals needing firearms. Between 1 April 2018 and 31 March 2021, Police Minister Bheki Cele confirmed that 78 firearms and 982 rounds of ammunition were stolen, but said no robberies transpired at police stations in the 2021/2022 financial year. And yet the Hotazel police station was robbed of three R5 assault rifles, eight 9mm pistols and two 12-gauge shotguns on 31 July 2021. Groenewald insists that the Minister must provide answers for this discrepancy, and say what he is going to do about the alarming fact that not a single one of the 24 criminals arrested in connection with the robberies has been successfully prosecuted so far. – Sandra Laurence
Police stations a source of illegal firearms – Pieter Groenewald
By Pieter Groenewald*
Robberies at police stations have turned them into a great source of illegal firearms in the hands of criminals.
This is evident in the reply by the Minister of Police, Bheki Cele, to a parliamentary question by Dr Pieter Groenewald, leader of the FF Plus.
According to the Minister’s written reply, 13 robberies took place at police stations from 1 April 2018 to 31 March 2021, during which 78 firearms and 982 rounds of ammunition were stolen. (Question and reply attached herewith.)
Apart from the fact that these robberies clearly demonstrate that criminals no longer fear the police, it is alarming that not a single one of the 24 criminals arrested in connection with the robberies have been successfully prosecuted thus far. It points to poor police work.
When taking into account that the stolen firearms include 23 x 5,56mm assault rifles and 40 x 9mm pistols – the type of weapons usually used in transit and other robberies – then it is clear that police stations have become a convenient source of illegal firearms for criminals.
Just six of the 23 assault rifles and four of the 40 pistols were recovered.
In his reply, the Minister stated that no robberies transpired at police stations in the 2021/2022 financial year.
And yet the Hotazel police station was robbed of three R5 assault rifles, eight 9mm pistols and two 12-gauge shotguns on 31 July 2021.
So, the reply is factually incorrect and I will ask him to provide an explanation.
These are firearms obtained through robberies. If the thousands of firearms stolen from or lost by police stations are considered, the police have become one of the biggest suppliers of illegal firearms for criminals.
The Minister must provide answers for this and must say what he is going to do about it.
- Dr Pieter Groenewald, FF Plus leader.