The Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (POPCRU) calls for an investigation into the amount and types of firearms handed over from the apartheid police to the democratically elected government after 1994, and the records of weapons handed over to certain groupings of the populace with the aim to trigger a civil war and undermine CODESA negotiations at the time.
Part of the problem we face to this day is that our country is found to have the second highest gun-related deaths in the world after the USA as we are currently standing at 34 deaths per 100 000 people, therefore making us the 2nd worst in the world of gun deaths.
Statistics demonstrate that we stand at 13 legally-acquired firearms per 100 residents and rank at 48 out of 175 countries in relation to the number of registered firearms per country. This very fact indicates that most murders and other associated illegal criminal activities are committed by firearms that are either stolen, come through our borders illegally and/or form part of those distributed by the apartheid police, which are to this day not accounted for.
Authorities only get information on these firearms once they have been recovered, and to this extent, most would have been used in violent acts of crime and are dominantly traced back to the apartheid era.
Another aspect of the growing problem of firearms has been that the Private Security Industry in South Africa remains unregulated, has three times more firearms and personnel than our police and army combined, and is dominantly foreign-owned, indicating our security as a country is under imminent threat.
We call for the following;
- An investigation into a number of firearms handed over to the post-apartheid government under Police Commissioners Johan van der Merwe (1994-1995) and George Fivaz (1995-2000). We are of the view that this will assist the SAPS in tracing the whereabouts of the many missing unaccounted for firearms that continue fueling the senseless acts constraining our country from achieving gun-free communities,
- A number of firearms in the hands of the apartheid police pre-1994,
- An investigation into a number of firearms given to certain groupings among black people in particular, aimed at fueling a civil war around the time the CODESA negotiations were in place,
- The President of the Republic to sign into effect the Private Security Industry Regulation Amendment (PSIRA) Bill. This will ensure, among others, we know where their firearms are purchased, their movements and the identity of their staff complement.
- Our Intelligence agency must play a bigger role in investigating the origins and whereabouts of these illegal firearms,
- The reestablishment of the Tactical Response Team (TRT) within the police as they are currently displaced because no one wants to take accountability for them. They do not have a structure and are being moved to deal with ordinary crime prevention whereas they have tactical skills of house penetration, arrest for some of the most wanted criminals, etc. We believe their skills are not being fully utilised by the SAPS.
The dismantling of the TRT and placement of high-level management which continues to be haphazardly moved randomly under the Acting National Commissioner has caused a lot of confusion within the SAPS, leading to bloated structures at the top echelons whilst most members on the ground have lost touch with understanding their roles. Another disturbing factor that is surely decreasing public confidence in our police has been the allegations levelled against the Acting National Commissioner and his behavior thereafter. It is totally unacceptable that he publicly called another arm that investigates police for the purpose of transparency an ‘OPID’ on the basis of their investigations into his alleged activities, he is not above the law. We find it unacceptable that two heads are fighting in the public domain while their main task of fighting crime is escalating in the country.
We are of the view that the SAPS has sufficient capacity to remove illegal firearms from our communities, so long as there is proper management of resources.
We call on neighbours, girlfriends, boyfriends, relatives and communities to come forward with information regarding any firearms people around them have as some might be illegal, which in most cases are used to even kill their loved ones.
Issued by POPCRU on 18/05/2017