Half of EC police not competent to carry firearms

Issued by Bobby Stevenson, MPL
Shadow MEC for Safety and Security

The day to day operations of SAPS in the Eastern Cape are being severely compromised, with more than half of the members not completing their firearm competency testing. This requires urgent intervention as we want bobbies on the beat, not officers in offices.

According to a response for oral reply, Safety and Liaison MEC, Weziwe Tikana, said that so far in the 2019/20 financial year, only 5 531 out of 13 688 (40%) have completed the annual firearm competency tests. In the last financial year (2018/19) only 7 383 out of 13 526 police (54%) completed their annual firearm competency tests.

SEE: IQP 14 response 26.

This means the members who have not completed the tests are not legally competent to carry a firearm.

Not only does this compromise SAPS operations, but it can open SAPS up to legal action if a firearm is used illegally.

This places hard working and dedicated police members in an agonising predicament. Do they carry a gun in contravention of legal prescripts, or do they go undefended into the war zone of crime in this province?

When I questioned the MEC in the house whether there was a shortage of ammunition in SAPS, she shot herself in the foot by giving a misleading response.

She stated that the was no shortage of “day-to-day” ammunition but failed to mention that there is a shortage of training ammunition. Why else would members not be able to complete their firearm competency training?

The reasons that were given by MEC Tikana do not mention anything to do with the shortage of training ammunition.

SEE: IQP 14 Response Q25

In contrast to this, Brigadier Vishnu Naidoo is quoted in the Herald on Monday, 14 October, confirming that there is indeed a shortage of ammunition as a result of problems with the supplier, Denel.

The MEC must explain why she gave misleading information to the House? This is not the first time this has happened, last year incorrect information was given around Rape Kits.

We need a highly efficient and effective South African Police Service, that is not crippled by supply chain management issues. We need a modern police service, where there are boots on the ground, cameras on the poles and drones in the air. All three of these things are indispensable to combat crime.

The DA wants to see fully resourced police personnel on the beat, that are fully competent to utilise their firearms when necessary.