January 27 2007 at 01:05PM
A "sizable number" of guns surrendered to the police for destruction have mysteriously found their way to criminal syndicates and warring taxi groups, according to gun lobby groups and the Democratic Alliance.
It is alleged that crooked police working at firearm centres at several police stations countrywide have been selling guns to criminal syndicates. The guns were meant to be kept in safes pending their destruction.
DA spokesperson on safety and security Dianne Kohler-Barnard said she was collecting affidavits in which people alleged that guns that they had handed over to the police had been used in armed robberies.
Kohler-Barnard said in some instances police went to the homes of some of these people believing they were implicated in robberies - but they had handed over their firearms up to two years earlier for destruction.
She said she had already submitted questions to Safety and Security Minister Charles Nqakula and was awaiting his response.
"There is an absolute trend where surrendered firearms have been used in armed robberies and it is far more widespread than I thought," she said.
SA Gunowners Association spokesperson Martin Hood spoke of four incidents where surrendered guns have afterwards been used to commit crimes.
"We have raised this matter with the relevant authorities and it seems nothing is being done," said Hood.
He said a firearm that was surrendered at Tugela Ferry in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands early last year was used in an armed robbery at a Spar Supermarket in Broadacres, north of Johannesburg, last November.
He said he had been told one officer dealing with surrendered guns had been selling them to taxi drivers.
This article was originally published on page 6 of Cape Argus on January 27, 2007