Firearm Destruction in Western Cape: SAPS briefing
Community Safety, Cultural Affairs and Sport (WCPP)
30 August 2022
Chairperson: Mr G Bosman (DA)
The Standing Committee on Community Safety, Cultural Affairs and Sport was told by the SA Police Service (SAPS) that its efforts to establish a firearms destruction site in the province had not yielded results. Several possible sites at private companies had been investigated and found unsuitable. Budgetary constraints prevented the SAPS from building its own site in the province. Firearms and ammunition were transported to Pretoria for destruction.
Members were told that details about the transportation were highly confidential. The SAPS was, however, prepared to give the Committee a confidential briefing. The Committee resolved to hold an in-camera hearing with the SAPS and experts on firearms destruction.
SAPS Briefing on Firearm Destruction
The Committee heard that budgetary constraints meant that the SA Police Service (SAPS) could not afford to build a firearm destruction site in the Western Cape and that firearms and ammunition were transported to Pretoria for destruction.
The SAPS had inspected several possible destruction sites, all of which were found to be not suitable:
ArcelorMittal (Saldanha Steel) had been closed.
The Atlantis Foundry in Atlantis could not accommodate SAPS.
SA Metal in Bishop Lavis was unsuitable and the company was not interested in assisting.
Cisco in Kuilsriver had been used previously. However, the arrangement was terminated due to high security risks and legal requirements.
The Committee was told that details about the process of transporting firearms and ammunition to Pretoria remained highly confidential.
See presentation for further details
Mr F Christians (ACDP) remarked that there had been a debate in the provincial parliament about the matter under discussion. The presentation had not left Committee Members better informed. The information Members had was that firearms were taken to Pretoria twice a year. He was not confident that the firearms ever reached Pretoria. He asked how many firearms were transported to Pretoria. The police were being robbed and their firearms were used in crime. Was it not a high risk to transport these firearms to Pretoria? He proposed there should be another meeting with the SAPS in-camera.
Lieutenant General Thembisile Patekile, Western Cape Provincial Commissioner, stated that they had been transporting the guns for a number of years. Checks and balances were in place when this was done. He could not tell the Committee how many times they transported the firearms because that was the gist of the security matter. No firearms had been lost in all these years, from where they were collected to where they were destroyed in Pretoria. He indicated they would be willing to brief the Committee on confidential things. However, in some committee meetings – but not in the Western Cape - information had been leaked and a police station had been robbed. There were security risks that should be taken into consideration. He would tell the Committee in confidence how many firearms were transported.
Ms D Baartman (DA) supported the idea of another meeting with SAPS in-camera. She asked for more information on the logistics of transporting the firearms.
The Chairperson asked if the SAPS had explored on-site destruction using chemical processes. He asked if there was any lobbying the SAPS would like to be done by the Western Cape Department of Community Safety (DCS).
General Patekile said on-site destruction would not work because the process of melting firearms was huge. Consideration had been given to destroying firearms in the province, but nothing had been finalised. The DCS could assist in the matter.
Mr Christians said he was pleased to hear that not a single gun had been lost during the transportation process. That meant the system was secure. There was no need to fix a system that was not broken, but there was a need to find alternatives and look at costs. He suggested the Committee should visit the former firearm destruction site in Kuilsriver to get more information on the matter.
General Patekile said he favoured the Committee visiting the Kuilsriver site. He would provide the details of the costs of transporting the firearms to Pretoria. He noted that firearms had been lost at the site where they were kept in Pretoria and not at provincial level. The colonel responsible for the lost firearms had been jailed and no longer a member of SAPS.
The Committee resolved that it would meet to discuss the matter in confidence and invite people knowledgeable about the destruction of firearms to brief it. It further resolved to visit the Kuilsriver site and to conduct a study tour to the national firearm destruction site and forensic laboratory. It resolved that both the SAPS and the DCS should brief the Committee on implementing the policing needs and priorities (PNP) reports. It would also visit the base of the Law Enforcement Advancement Plan (LEAP) in Bishop Lavis, because the LEAP officers were doing great work assisting the SAPS.
The meeting was adjourned.
Bosman, Mr G
Baartman, Ms DM
Christians, Mr F
Kama, Mr M
Lekker, Ms P
Plato, Mr D
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