Cops lost 851 guns in a year
THE South African Police Service revealed that police officers lost a total of 851 service weapons last year alone.
However, only 300 officers were charged for the losses.
It has also emerged that just over 20000 officers were incompetent in handling firearms, while 16000 cannot drive.
However, National Police Commissioner General Riah Phiyega, along with some top officers, said yesterday that not all the guns were lost as a result of negligence.
The top officers were briefing Parliament's portfolio committee on the SAPS.
Major-General Kaine Monyepao told the committee that police officers were not always responsible for the loss of their firearms.
"If a member is involved in an armed robbery incident, those members would not be charged, but we determine whether or not the loss was as a result of negligence," Monyepao said.
The committee wanted to know from the police leadership what was being done about the officers found to be not competent in handling their firearms.
The police's Divisional Commissioner of Human Resources Nobubele Mbekela said there were only 20104 police officers who had not completed their firearmtraining.
"Those officers have not yet done the practical shooting with the firearms ... and the standard requires that police have to be competent in three firearms - 9mm, shotgun and R5 rifle.
"You'll find that a person is [only] competent in one of them ... but in terms of the system, they're incompetent," said Mbekela.
She said a programme had been implemented to ensure that all police officers were compliant with the competency rules by the end of March 2013.
The slow pace in getting police officers to become competent was also due to a lack of shooting ranges, and in most instances the SAPS had to make use of private ranges, she said.
But Diane Kohler-Barnard of the Democratic Alliance said this exposed the police to litigation.
"Should an active member of the SAPS shoot a civilian, and proven in court not to have the competency to handle a firearm, it could becatastrophic.
"You will see your legal claims going through the roof. Tell me that you've taken firearms away from those [officers]," she said.
The committee also grilled the police top brass on the 16000 officers who were still without driver's licences despite an order in 2010 that all new recruits be able to drive.
Phiyega told the committee that those who had continuously failed their driver's tests would be moved to other parts of the SAPS where driving was not a requirement.
She said the figure included those with physical disabilities.