2007-11-22 : Metro cops' firepower fizzles out

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2007-11-22 : Metro cops' firepower fizzles out

Postby GOSA » Fri, 2007-11-23 07:19

http://www.iol.co.za/index.php?set_id=1 ... 597C691760

Metro cops' firepower fizzles out

By Barry Bateman

The police have vowed to take the fight to the country's criminals,
but the Tshwane Metro Police - often the first to arrive at cash
heist scenes and robberies - have been rendered powerless to fight
fire with fire.

Since March, the Akasia and Centurion shooting ranges have been
closed because they were deemed unsafe.

The metro police's third shooting range at Premos in Pretoria West is
still operating, but is only certified for pistols.

Hundreds of rifles and shotguns are left unused, locked in safes. And
officers are forced to patrol the streets with service pistols,
despite facing well-armed criminals.

The violent heist attempt near the Fountains Circle on Monday, which
left an SAPS Task Force member and three gunmen dead, highlighted the
odds the police and metro police are up against.

Police recovered an AK-47, an R4 and two R5s from the scene.

A senior metro police officer said their rifle ranges had been closed
because they did not meet minimum requirements set by the SA Bureau
of Standards (SABS).

Officers who needed to use the rifles and shotguns must get
authorisation first, by using the weapons and passing tests at the
ranges in accordance with the Firearms Act.

For this, officers had to book a firearm from the weapons pool. The
weapon had to be returned afterwards.

He said that since the rifle ranges had been closed, none of his
subordinates had been able to renew their authorisation and therefore
were unable to use the heavy-calibre weapons.

Most officers were issued with permits allowing them to carry only

"I have 15 rifles stacked in a safe. We need this firepower, but we
can't use it," he said.

Other units experienced the same problem.

The Pretoria News visited the Centurion metro police shooting range
recently, only to find the gates locked with a sign
proclaiming: "Shooting range unsafe!! No shooting allowed! By order:
Tshwane Metro Police Department."

Metro police spokesperson Superintendent Alta Fourie confirmed that
the ranges had been closed.

"We did inspections on the shooting ranges and decided that we should
make some changes to ensure that they were safer.

"As soon as they are safe again we will reopen them. We still have
the Premos shooting range, but that is just for handguns," she said.

She could not say when they would be reopened.

Fourie denied that metro officers were unable to use any of the
rifles, saying they could arrange with the SAPS to use their shooting
ranges for evaluations.

"The metro police have a great relationship with the SAPS, and if
required they would be able to use any of their shooting ranges.

"Officers go to shoot once a year and are evaluated before their
licences are renewed," she said.

The SABS was sent a query about the minimum standards required at a
shooting range, why these ranges were closed and how often shooting
ranges were required to pass standards tests.

The SABS failed to respond by the time of going to press.

This article was originally published on page 1 of The Pretoria News on November 22, 2007
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