Open letter to South Africa’s students‚ universities and government‚ represented by Minister in the .
POLICE have confiscated and collected more than 500000 firearms throughout the country since 2005, says Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa.
Mthethwa was speaking in Durban yesterday during the destruction of firearms.
More than 10000 firearms (illegal and voluntarily surrendered ones) collected from KwaZulu-Natal and Eastern Cape were destroyed.
Mthethwa said police wanted to ensure that firearms only "rested with law enforcement agencies at the end of the day".
He also said they were looking at strengthening laws that would ensure that firearms did not get lost inside police stations.
"We must commend people who surrendered their firearms. We urge those who have legal firearms and feel that they don't need them to please surrender them. Those who have illegal firearms have no choice but to use the amnesty to surrender them or face the full might of the law," he said.
Mthethwa said the amnesty period was meant to close the sources of illegal firearms, particularly the borders. He also said they were working with private security companies because "they were also in possession of firearms. Our primary objective is to close down all avenues.
"We want to shut down the floodgates. I must say that the destruction of the firearms and the amnesty do not substitute day-to-day police operations, that it does not in any way substitute search and seizure operations," he said.
National Police Commissioner Bheki Cele said Nongoma, Umsinga and very recently Ladysmith, were "trouble spots" for illegal firearms in KwaZulu-Natal.
"I must say townships like Umlazi and KwaMashu as well as the hostels remain problematic, but it is important for people to note that we are serious," he said.
Cele said police operations and the campaign encouraging people to hand over their firearms were now bearing fruit.
"We realise that more people are now dying from knives than firearms because we are succeeding in squeezing out the easy availability of illegal firearms," he said.
He said that in Gauteng alone 80600 firearms were destroyed, which was a "serious dent in the illegal firearms trade".