A STAGGERING 1 941 official firearms to the collective value of R5,060 million have been reported lost or stolen by KwaZulu-Natal law enforcement officers between January and October this year.
This was revealed by KZN Community Safety and Liaison MEC Willies Mchunu in a parliamentary reply to questions by the Democratic Alliance (DA) yesterday.
The report revealed that 1 120 firearms were reported lost, while 821 were listed as stolen.
Of these firearms, 1 542 handguns, 57 shotguns and 360 rifles were reported lost or stolen.
Mchunu said 203 firearms reported lost or stolen during the past five years have since been recovered, with the average time frame 409 days for recovery.
The DA said it was alarmed by these figures and will be calling for a full explanation from the MEC.
“The fact that so many firearms entrusted to law enforcement officers have simply vanished is an indictment against both the department and its employees and raises serious questions around competency levels,” DA spokesperson for community safety and liaison Sizwe Mchunu said yesterday.
“We will be calling for answers as to how this has been allowed to happen and what steps the department is taking to prevent such massive loss in the future.
“We also want to know whether any disciplinary measures are in place to deal with instances where firearms simply disappear.”
He said the recovery rate of weapons indicates that finding missing firearms is not viewed as a department priority. “KZN’s crime levels remain high and the reality is that many of these weapons are now in the wrong hands,” said Mchunu.
The MEC responded that a dedicated team investigates the disappearance of firearms and that all necessary steps are taken.