Recent revelations by the Times regarding the loss of approximately 20 000 rounds of ammunition, supposedly 7.62mm NATO cartridges, from the South African Police Service on 3 November 2015 are deeply concerning. The ammunition was stolen out of the Tactical Response Team’s armoury at Pretoria Central police station.
Not only is the theft itself a catastrophic breach of security, but the additional hazard posed by this amount of ammunition falling into criminal hands needs no further elaboration.
The fact that a criminal case regarding the theft was only opened 10 days after its discovery, and that an internal investigation only commenced more than a month after the event is even more alarming. The SAPS also did not inform the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Policing of the theft, and all mention of it even happening was omitted from the SAPS 2015/2016 Annual Report. One would think this was done willfully, especially since no arrests have been made nor has any disciplinary action been taken against any of the implicated parties.
This is a purposeful obfuscation of the truth by senior members of the South African Police Service, and in a transparent and democratic society it is unacceptable. If a member of the firearm owning public were to make themselves guilty of similar offences, they would have faced arrest and trial with near-certain conviction by now.
Unfortunately, the theft of large amounts of ammunition out of the State’s hands is not a novel or unforeseen event: I have on several occasions previously lamented the cavalier attitude of the government regarding keeping its own house in order, all while it attempts to further constrict the rights of law-abiding citizens who own firearms.
Such hypocrisy is not acceptable. Lawful firearm owners are not the problem, and have never been the problem. The government has left its ammunition depots in a state of neglect that gravely impacts their security. Anti-gun organisations repeatedly call for amnesties to allow people who no longer wish to own firearms to hand them in to the police, who then leak these same firearms back into criminal hands through corruption.
And whenever these stolen firearms are used in committing crime we, the gun owners of South Africa, get the blame for the incompetence and criminality of government officials and their complicit sycophants sitting on the board of Gun-Free South Africa.