Did cops lose 14 rifles?

2010-11-29 00:00

ALLEGATIONS that a large number of firearms belonging to the state went missing in a rural midlands police station have raised fears that they might fall into the hands of criminals.

The allegation emerged in a fax that was sent to the South African Police Force cluster in Howick. The fax came to the attention of The Witness after it was mistakenly sent to a private business in Howick.

It alleges that 14 R5 assault rifles and 15 rounds of R5 ammunition were unaccounted for at Impendle police station. The police station falls under the Howick cluster.

The fax was meant for the head of the cluster, Colonel Mbatha, and it was from the head of detectives in Impendle police station, Syabonga Israel Moloi. It was sent on November 23. The case number for the missing weapons is 80/10/2010 and it was opened at Impendle police station in October.

It is believed that the weapons disappeared on March 8.

“This office would like to confirm to you that 14xR5 and 15xR5 rounds went missing from Impendle CSC (community service centre) when inspection was done.

“The above case was opened for further investigation. Further progress will [be] reported,” read the signed fax.

When contacted about the matter, Captain Hlongwana of Impendle police said the matter of the missing firearms was mistakenly printed in the correspondence.

“No R5s went missing; only ammunition went missing. They went missing at a shooting range. Maybe Moloi wrote it wrong.

“We don’t even have so many R5s because our police station is small,” said Hlongwana.

Police spokesperson Warrant Officer Joey Jeevan also denied that rifles went missing at the police station.

“The case was opened for the disappearance of nine 9 mm pistol rounds and 15 R5 rounds. But they were later accounted for as they were used during a shootout with a suspect,” she said.

She said the disappearance of bullets is insignificant and does not warrant a newspaper story.

“The case was opened on October 19, but after bullets were accounted for the case was closed on November 23,” she said.

A woman whose office accidentally received the fax said she was alarmed when she read it.

“On reading it I was shocked and and became very angry that while we have so much crime in the country a police station can just lose so many firearms. What kind of a police station is it which cannot take care of state weapons? You cannot help but wonder who has those firearms,” said the woman who did not wish to be named.

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