The ongoing war on the Cape Flats – where gangs shoot at each other left, right and centre, harming innocent bystanders, primarily children – will not end before the South African Police Service (SAPS) starts being honest about their shortcomings.
So says pressure group Action Society after it came to light that the SAPS misled the provincial standing committee during a meeting about community safety in the Western Cape.
During the meeting, the police admitted that the FDA (Forensic Data Analists) shut the PCEM system (Property Control and Exhibit Management) down in June 2020. They, however, failed to mention that the FDA had to shut down the firearm permit system (FPS), which manages thousands of legal firearms, as well. The FPS managed 180 000 handguns and 350 000 semi-automatic rifles and shotguns.
Despite the National Treasury finding the value of the system fair and approving its budget, the FDA (Forensic Data Analists) had to shut it down ten months ago because of a dispute over costs and non-payment.
“How are we supposed to fight crime without a proper electronic system to issue firearm licences legally or trace forensic evidence properly? The SAPS, which is supposed to be on our side, misleads us,” says Dr Rineé Pretorius, Action Society spokesperson.
The pressure group says the public should be informed about the current crisis regarding the management of firearms in South Africa and its implications. At present, the police process the data by hand, as is the case for DNA samples.
“The moment they shut the PCEM and FPS systems down, South Africa had to fall back to a pen and paper system, which, apart from being impractical, can also be easily abused,” explains Pretorius.
According to the report issued after the meeting about gang violence on 31 March 2021, it seems they did touch on the possession of illegal firearms and the DNA backlog.
Western Cape deputy police commissioner Major-General Jeremy Vearey said the gang members “brag” about their firearms being “legal”. However, they got their hands on it through corrupt police officials.
According to Vearey, they issue sporting licences for these weapons. It enables gang members to buy an unlimited amount of ammunition, often more than 10 000 rounds per transaction.
“Doesn’t this raise suspicion with the retailer? Why would one individual need to buy so much ammunition? Sadly, criminals who kill innocent children and bystanders with random shots get away with this. The real reason they possess firearms will never be entered into the firearm registry,” says Pretorius.
Committee members suggested that the national SAPS leave the issuing of firearms and testing of DNA evidence to the provincial police. Action Society supports this suggestion since the national police service is not capable of managing the firearm registry.
“When South Africa introduced the Firearm Act 21 years ago, it announced a new democratic era of gun control. Shockingly, it never reached its full potential, and dark figures from the underworld abuse the system,” says Pretorius.
Action Society feels that the blood of the victims of gang violence are on the hands of minister of police, Bheki Cele and the national commissioner of police, Genl Khehla Sitole. Under the current circumstances, the local SAPS and community leaders are faced with a virtually impossible task in the war against gang violence on the Cape Flats.
ISSUED BY: Action Society
DATE: 16 April 2021
FOR MEDIA ENQUIRIES:
Dr. Rineé Pretorius
Spokesperson: Action Society,
PR: Action Society,