"In addition to various corrective measures which we are currently implementing, I have instructed the police management to ensure that each time a police officer loses his or her firearm, there must be a full investigation into the circumstances surrounding the loss," Mthethwa said in a statement on Wednesday.
"To this end, I have now instructed that the Police Inspectorate be tasked with the responsibility of conducting such investigations."
Mthethwa said the ministry was looking into a situation where no more firearms could be issued to an officer pending the outcome of a thorough investigation by the inspectorate.
"This investigation could lead to criminal charges and or dismissal from the SAPS, as well as the person being declared incompetent to carry a firearm," he said.
Mthethwa has told Parliament that 1 497 police officers who lost their guns since 2005 had been issued with new firearms.
He said there were now constant inspections, assessments and interventions at various levels of command to ensure prevent losses.
"Unless we begin to zoom into the issue of firearm safety, both by police and civilians, we will still be faced with a challenge of legally-registered firearms falling into the wrong hands of the criminals," Mthethwa said.
"That is precisely why we are looking, on a daily basis, at measures to improve this area. We need to know where our firearms are, who is in charge of them and under what circumstances are they being utilised."