DA demands accountability as SAPS allows theft of 15 firearms

Issued by Gillion Bosman, MPP – DA Western Cape Spokesperson on Community Safety
23 Jan 2024 in Press Statements

Attention editors: Please see English audio by MPP Gillion Bosman attached.

The DA in the Western Cape echoes the outrage expressed by many Western Cape communities in the wake of reports that some 15 firearms and eight imitation firearms were stolen from Mitchells Plain SAPS in November last year. The senior leadership of SAPS must account for what amounts to a critical failure to ensure the safekeeping of evidence – especially firearms.

Reports indicate that the firearms were stolen from the precinct’s SAP-13 storeroom, which holds evidence used in ongoing investigations. This means that not only are these firearms are presumably back on the streets, but also that vital evidence has gone missing as well.

When I visited one of the Western Cape Government’s law enforcement facilities in Bishop Lavis last year, I was impressed to note the strict protocols on the handling and distribution of issued firearms. These protocols were in place to prevent incidents precisely such as this one, and now serious questions must be asked as to why similar protocols were presumably not in place at Mitchells Plain SAPS. If they were, SAPS must explain why those protocols were allowed to fail so badly.

On a greater level, this incident once again demonstrates the total dysfunction that has become endemic to the South African Police Service, and provides an insight into why the DA has been steadfast in calling for devolution in policing. This was a preventable incident, and had a stronger environment of accountability and professionalism been in place, it is fair to say that this incident would likely not have taken place.

It is also troubling to note that this incident has only now come to light. This would seem to imply that efforts have been made to keep the incident under wraps. At the very least, SAPS appears not to have acted in the interests of transparency.

The DA is calling for the senior management team at Mitchells Plain SAPS to be suspended pending a full investigation – as was the case when 14 firearms went missing from the same station in 2017.

DA Western Cape Spokesperson on Community Safety Gillion Bosman says: “The DA is furious to see SAPS allowing firearms back onto the streets, and saddened to imagine the consequences of this critical failure of management. Incidents like these are precisely why we have consistently called for an overhaul to SAPS, and we reiterate that call now in the strongest possible terms. We demand accountability, and the suspension of the senior management team at Mitchells Plain SAPS immediately.”