2012-11-10: Police "lose" 35 9mm pistols in 3 weeks

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2012-11-10: Police "lose" 35 9mm pistols in 3 week

Postby GOSA » Sun, 2012-11-11 08:55

http://www.dispatch.co.za/cops-lose-guns/

Cops lose guns

By ZWANGA MUKHUTHU on November 10, 2012

DOZENS of police firearms have allegedly been stolen from the Dimbaza police station near King William’s Town in the past three weeks.

Police discovered during a routine internal check on Wednesday evening a number of guns were missing from a safe in the station commander’s office.

Officials who confirmed the guns were missing declined to say how many were unaccounted for but one police source told the Daily Dispatch about 35 firearms had disappeared.

The firearms were all 9mm pistols and included new ones that had not yet been issued, the police source said.

All had disappeared since firearms were last counted at the police station three weeks ago.

The provincial police commissioner Lieutenant-General Celiwe Binta heard the news on Thursday and instructed police to conduct an audit at the station.
Her office assembled a team of experienced provincial detectives to head the investigation.

Provincial police spokeswoman Brigadier Miranda Mills said after the audit, discrepancies were found and a case of theft had since been opened.

Her office said yesterday police viewed the matter as serious.

Mills denied claims a 28-year- old female police officer in charge of signing out firearms had been arrested in connection with the stolen firearms.

“I can confirm the provincial head office received a report yesterday, indicating not all firearms at the Dimbaza police station could be accounted for.

“At the moment police are taking in people for questioning, we have not yet arrested anyone,” she said.

Mills said heads were expected to roll once police investigations were completed.

“The provincial commissioner indicated any member or employee to be found involved in this matter, whether with criminal intent or negligence, will be dealt with severely in terms of the law and SAPS policies,” she said.

Bobby Stevenson, the DA spokesman on safety and security in the Eastern Cape, said he was shocked at the news.

“There needs to be a top-level inquiry into this matter as to why so many firearms disappeared under police guard.

“It is actions such as these that make our province have the highest murder rate in the country because research has shown stolen firearms are used in several categories of criminal activities,” he said.

“I will ask the MEC of safety and liaison [Helen Sauls-August] what she intends to do with this issue because we need a detailed and outlined plan to tackle it in order to ensure this does not occur again,” Stevenson said.

Sauls-August’s spokesman, Lwandile Sicwetsha, commended police for their immediate launch of the internal investigation saying.
“This clearly indicates their commitment in fighting crime and corruption even among themselves.”

Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa said in September 1202 police firearms had gone missing since the beginning of last year. At the time the DA accused the police of fuelling the illegal firearms trade in this country.

The Dimbabza police station has about 55 officers who bear arms.
Some are entitled to a pistol permanently while others sign one out whenever they go on patrol or on a potentially dangerous assignment.

The national spokeswoman for police union Popcru, Theto Mahlakoana, urged members of the public to come forward with any information which could help the police recover the firearms before they landed up in criminal hands.
She said Popcru believed the investigation would be able to yield answers since every station had guidelines on to how to keep firearms safe.

Mills said the police had strict guidelines on the safekeeping of firearms.
She said this included regular and physical counts, inspections and checks of control registers and immediate reporting when a firearm was stolen or unaccounted.
“There must be no unreasonable delay in reporting such a matter,” she said.
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