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Norwood SAPS station commander steps down after 158 firearms stolen from evidence room

Action Society and the Portfolio Committee on Police shared their concerns after 158 firearms were stolen from the Norwood SAPS station. Picture: Pexels

Action Society and the Portfolio Committee on Police shared their concerns after 158 firearms were stolen from the Norwood SAPS station. Picture: Pexels

Published Jan 20, 2022

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Durban - The Norwood SAPS Station Commander has resigned following the theft of more than 150 firearms from the station room last year.

However, according to Action Society, the theft revelation is just the tip of the iceberg.

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In 2021, it was revealed that 158 firearms had been stolen from the station's evidence room.

The investigation stemmed from a shooting which took place last year between the police and armed robbers. It was later discovered, that one of the stolen firearms was used in the shooting that led to the killing of a police officer.

Gauteng police spokesperson, Dimakatso Sello, said the station commander, Colonel Phetole Mahasha, resigned on January 14.

Sello said a new commander will be appointed soon.

The firearms taken include AK47s, R5s and R1 rifles.

Action Society spokesperson, Ian Cameron, said this is not the first time Norwood police station has been involved in stolen firearms

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"In 2014, 112 assault rifles, handguns, commercial explosives and detonators were seized from a house belonging to an elderly Ukrainian couple in Norwood. It was discovered that the seized firearms were removed from the station’s evidence storeroom. These firearms were handed in to be destroyed by civilians who sought amnesty. This is a clear indication that this illegal practise within the station is still at work," he said.

Additionally, Colonel Chris Lodewyk Prinsloo was sentenced to 18 years in jail for selling over R9 million worth of firearms and ammunition to Gauteng right wing extremists and Cape Flat gang lords.

Cameron said the actions of these SAPS officials and the lack of accounting for all firearms is the cause of many citizens who lay victim to crime and gangster activity.

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He added that in March 2021, it was discovered that SAPS’ internal gun ownership permit system had been turned off. SAPS stopped paying the service provider, which led to the Firearm Permit System (FPS) being switched off.

"There is no electronic system in place to track stolen SAPS firearms. This issue has been lingering for the past nine months and due to the rise of criminal activity in relation to stolen firearms, a deeper investigation is required into administration of SAPS firearms," he said.

Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Police, Tina Joemat-Pettersson, has called for urgent strategies to fix challenges facing the South African Police Service at its SAPS 13 stores.

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She said while the theft of 158 firearms stolen from the Norwood station is a huge concern, especially as some of those firearms were used for criminal acts, the committee is concerned by the broader implication of challenges facing a number of SAPS 13 stores around the country.

“The monitoring and oversight of these stores is also a critical control measure that must be strengthened and, in cases of breach or dereliction of duty, officers must be held accountable throughout the chain of command,” she said.

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