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In Defence of Personal Firearms

firearm safety

The South African Police Service has come to a juncture where one might call it a washed-up shipwreck; in the last almost 30 years there have been more than half a million murders in South Africa! Murder increases year-on-year by approximately 1000 per year. It is tragic to see how this once mighty law enforcement institution, namely the South African Police Service, has become a service on its knees because of corruption, political interference, and the lowering of standards. The police is of course not the only institution to blame as successful prosecution of criminals is less than 20% – that in itself is a National Prosecuting Authority scandal for discussion another day.

The South African Police Service (SAPS) currently has no way of knowing exactly how many of their own firearms are still under their control and possession. The Firearm Permit System is still off and has been for almost two years. Cops currently book out firearms and ammunition manually for shifts, that obviously leaves major room for human error, but even more so, criminal opportunity.

The South African Police Service has lost more than 26025 SAPS firearms in 12 years but still continues with attempts to start the process of disarming law-abiding citizens. The police must stop the blame game and face the facts.

Between 2005 and 2017 (12 years) SAPS has lost, had stolen from them or is simply unable to account for 26025 SAPS guns issued to police officers. This was reported as 18196 guns between 2005 and 2011 and 7829 between 2009 and 2014.

The latest onslaught of the minister of police, Minister Bheki Cele, on legal gun owners, obviously including sport shooters, hunters and collectors should be deeply concerning for every single law-abiding South African citizen.

Apart from Bheki Cele’s corruption scandals as national commissioner of police more than a decade ago, he should also take responsibility for much of the deterioration in the South African Police Service after the Jackie Selebi era. Bheki Cele awarded thousands of police cadets at the police college over three remedials, some even four after failing assessments. This is in contradiction with the way it should have happened where a cadet’s ‘contract’ with the police should be terminated after two failures.

Furthermore, Bheki Cele fast-tracked the appointments of uniform bearers for the 2010 FIFA Soccer World Cup. Thousands of cadets were passed and allowed into police ranks without the relevant psychological examinations being completed. Since then, violence in police households also increased substantially, but their carrying of firearms was never prohibited.

The same internal audit report where these issues were raised, included further damming evidence of deterioration in police training ranks in South Africa.
The report indicated that almost 50% of firearm bearing law enforcement officials from SAPS in the Eastern Cape Province weren’t competent to carry firearms. Many of them may even be considered competent based on their experience and may actually be very hard-working honest men and women in blue, but, in recent years police often didn’t even have ammunition to do their annual practice shoots.

Only 5-10% of the South African Police Service budget is used for crime intelligence. It would be far more if those leading the service had the intent to prevent crime. Yet, the budget for VIP protection for senior state officials increases every single year. That means law-abiding taxpayers must pay for armed protection for government officials while the same government officials want to disarm taxpayers.

Between 2010 and 2018, reservist police members in South Africa have decreased by over 80%, thus more than 60 000 reservist police members were lost as guardians of communities. These reservists cost the government far less than permanent members and logically had the same power as any police member. Their boots on the ground made a huge impact in the daily fight against crime. All of this capacity has been lost due to a lack of interest, will or political support, or a combination thereof.

 

One police officer even told me that when he went to the shooting range for an annual practice shoot, another officer could not even load ammunition into his magazine as it had been rusted into the weapon. Obviously, there could be numerous reasons for that; fact is though, he or she not only would not be able to use the gun in a life-threatening situation, but also couldn’t even participate in an annual practice shoot.

Bheki Cele has admitted, in parliament, that the police have lost more than 10 million rounds of ammunition in less than 7 years and more than 5 000 firearms. According to a police report of 2019/20, the South African Police Service loses around 700 firearms annually. Imagine if each one of those firearms was used in one murder; should a police officer not be held accountable for each firearm lost?

Indicted ex-cop, Chris Prinsloo, admitted to helping supply gangs in the Western Cape with more than 9 000 firearms in the hands of police. Whether from amnesty submissions or another reason, this shows severe criminality amongst police as it would be impossible for one police member to facilitate that without major help on the inside of police ranks.

Interesting too that in a recent interview by Jacques Broodryk of AfriForum with crime statistics analyst, Dr Chris de Kock, the most prominently used firearms in the very regular cash in transit heists in South Africa are R4 and R5 assault rifles that both classify as an automatic firearm, both state issued. That means, somehow, somewhere, very well organised violent criminals have access to military grade guns to commit these crimes, they could have been stolen, but there have been many cases where firearms were rented or sold to criminals by law enforcement officers.

Dr de Kock continued to debunk several of the so-called statistics that Bheki Cele used to try and substantiate his claims that disarming lawfully armed South African citizens would decrease crime. Little or none of the stats that Bheki Cele used could be confirmed thus far.

Regarding gender-based violence, the very system (PCEM) that stores forensic evidence, amongst other things, has been out of commission for almost a year due to non-payment and disputes with the service provider. That means that almost 200 000 criminal cases could become null and void as a result of this state negligence. Thousands of rapists and other criminals could walk free; this while President Cyril Ramaphosa states that South Africa faces a second pandemic, namely gender-based violence.

There are approximately 40 000 reported rapes in South Africa annually. Rape and crimes of a sexual nature are severely under-reported too. In a very large majority of cases domestic violence is the catalyst for these crimes. Just imagine how empowering it could be to present firearms training and arm law-abiding women in South Africa? The playing field will be levelled almost immediately.

In many cases it seems that the average citizens that has legal access to firearms is often more competent to handle firearms than many law enforcement officers. Obviously, firearms training is key, it not only makes a legally armed citizen an asset to his or her safety, but also an asset to national security.

I would like to quote Gideon Joubert Paratus : “Adding further insult to injury, Minister Cele has the audacity to refer to these proposals as necessary to curtail the so-called “proliferation of firearms” in order to create a safer society. Yet under Minister Cele’s stewardship the SAPS failed to maintain their own Firearm Permit System (FPS) which has resulted in 500 000 police firearms not being tracked since June last year. During the first three months of 2021 a total of 84 SAPS firearms have been lost or stolen in Gauteng alone. The South African Police Service loses around 8 times more firearms per capita than South African civilians do.” The South African Police Service has not had a career police officer as a national police commissioner between George Fivas and the current General Sithole. Jackie Selebi disbanded specialised units and commandos, General Phiyega awarded herself a 10 year service medal without having served for 10 years, General Phahlane was removed due to more corruption …. and so it continues.

A national commissioner of the South African Police Service should be a career member with an impeccable service record appointed on merit. Political affiliation or influence should play no part at all. Since the time Fikile Mbalula was the minister of police, it seems the function of the minister of police, a political appointment, has become that of a national commissioner. Since those years, national commissioners have become increasingly quiet with politicians batting the media and others raising flags regarding questionable actions by blue uniforms or those in charge.

Lastly, could this whole debacle be due to government paranoia? Is the government not a little afraid that the very public could be a force to be reckoned with? Could public disarmament maybe be the first step to neutralise law-abiding citizens so that expropriation without compensation could be easier for the government to make a reality?

Even if you had a chance to call the police during a crime related emergency, they wouldn’t be there on time!

It is this simple, if you can defend yourself with a firearm , you can defend your family; if you can defend your family, you can defend your neighbours; when neighbours defend each other, they defend their community. You need a firearm for self-defence in South Africa.

Enough said.

Gun owners must unite to ensure that the legal possession of firearms does not ever change and become a criminal offence.

Written by Ian Cameron

Ian leads Action Society’s community safety drive and is the founder of firearms.co.za.


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