Cops robbed for their guns
February 26 2009 at 06:43PM
By Heinz de Boer, Arthi Sanpath and Rivonai Naidu
At least 15 South African Police Services (SAPS) guns have been stolen after
a gang of robbers brazenly attacked and robbed a SAPS/Metro Police joint
operations centre (JOC) on the beachfront near Boscombe Terrace this
There are concerns that the stolen guns could be used to commit serious and
Durban organised crime unit detectives have vowed to hunt down the gang, who
locked the two on-duty SAPS members in a room before fleeing with the
pistols at about 5.30am today.
Sources said the weapons were not kept in a safe, but in a lockable metal
box in the satellite station.
Durban organised crime head Superintendent Rajen Aiyer said his unit was
preparing to work 24-hour shifts to catch the robbers.
Provincial police spokesman Supt Muzi Mngomezulu said a suspect entered the
station this morning on the pretext of opening a case.
A sergeant and a reserve constable were on duty, said Mngomezulu.
"While the constable was busy with him, another suspect entered and pointed
a gun at the officers," he said, adding that the officers were unarmed.
"The suspects demanded firearms and cellphones," he said.
The constable asked for his cellphone SIM card, which the suspect returned.
"The suspect then went to the corner of the office and picked up a bag of
firearms," said Mngomezulu. He said the firearms were in the bag because the
officers were still preparing to put them away in a trunk for safekeeping.
Fifteen 9mm pistols were in the bag. A case of armed robbery has been
KZN violence monitor Mary de Haas described the incident as "disgraceful and
"This proves how slack the police are when looking after firearms.
Legislation requires that guns be safely locked away and, if these guns were
easily stolen, it proves they weren't locked away and that it was the work
of people who knew where to look," she said.
"Theft of guns is often linked to other criminal activity. A lot of the time
when farmers are attacked, the main reason is because criminals want
firearms to commit other crimes. Often, not only are the public targets, but
the police themselves."
Johan Burger, senior researcher at the Institute of Security Studies, said
while he could not comment on this incident, "the firearms control act makes
it clear that firearms have to be locked in a safe, and all police stations
do have walk-in safes. In the case of satellite police stations, one needs
to look at whether the metal box was properly attached, maybe to a wall,
immovable and with a suitable locking device. If all those criteria were
met, then it could fit the requirements of the firearms act . but these
specifications have to be investigated".
This article was originally published on page 1 of Daily News on February