Wrong ammo used at protest: Mthethwa

2014-01-24 21:03

Pretoria - Police fired discontinued shotgun rounds during a service delivery protest in Mothutlung, North West, in which four protesters were killed last week, Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa said on Friday.

The SSG 12-gauge rounds, which contain pellets, were officially discontinued by the SA Police Service in 2006, and were "not supposed to be used", he told reporters in Pretoria.

Three people died in Mothutlung during the protests over water services -- two allegedly shot by police, while another died after falling out of a police vehicle. A fourth, shot in the head, died in hospital a week later.

Responding to questions, Mthethwa said no live ammunition had been used by police at the protest.

Delivery protests

He announced that 14 police officers -- six constables, six warrant officers and two lieutenants -- were facing disciplinary action.

"Six are already suspended and others are being served with their suspension notices."

The disciplinary process could take up to 60 days. All of them were "well-experienced and practised" members of the public order policing unit, Mthethwa said.

According to police, a total of 185 shots were fired at protesters in Mothutlung last week during the water delivery protests.

These included rubber shot and the discontinued SSG rounds, as well as two stun grenades and a number of smoke grenades.

  • SharonE - 2014-01-24 21:11

    One fell out of a police vehicle? What happened, did they run out of bullets?

  • Dawid Jacobs - 2014-01-24 21:13

    You arectrained to know the difference in the ammo you use. Simple, BEE and quality has ruined SA.

  • pmalungana - 2014-01-24 21:15

    Why commission @marikane if it took u hardly a month to establish this?

  • Phillip Marchant - 2014-01-24 21:17

    Wrong ammunition, fire pool...What next, you liar?

      lacrimosewolf - 2014-01-24 21:30

      Well maybe not liar, just a total breakdown in the system. Commanders are supposed to check all armaments, protective gear, vans, trucks, etc under a very clearly defined and documented Riot Protocol. Unfortunately, the specially trained riot units were disbanded. So who in all the teams deployed 13 000 times last year, really knew the protocol? And how many of them were in a position to make sure it was adhered to? My money is on none.

  • Themba Wa Ka Mfundzi - 2014-01-24 21:18


  • piet.vanzyl - 2014-01-24 21:24

    The wrong party is in power in SA....give the DA a chance!!

  • fargone - 2014-01-24 21:27

    Rubber ammo and 12 gauge with buck shot are both fired with the same weapon, how come the officers did not check what they were firing? Or they knew what they were firing and Nathi, is just doing " Dammage control" , what a lame excuse.

      SheilanDerek de Beer - 2014-01-25 00:46

      S S G shotgun ammo is known as buckshot and the15 odd pellets will kill a person up to 75 meters away with no problem !! these rounds are marked SSG on the top of the case , they should NEVER be used on humans.. unless you want to kill them !!! fire/sue rhe minister ,!!!

  • JanGreen - 2014-01-24 21:29

    SSG 12 is live ammunition. It contains lead bullets (Bok haal, usually round) and can kill.

      michael.tetley.35 - 2014-01-24 23:15

      Buckshot in English.

      Richard Bartlett - 2014-01-25 11:16

      Why did they not destroy the discontinued ammo like they destroy legally owned guns owned by responsible people. Or do they use the ammo (buckshot) to poach game on the long farms (along the side of roads).

  • Mirnix Dirnix - 2014-01-24 21:29

    Lies,Lies and Lies again.PLS SA make a change this year.It's worth a try!!!

  • DraconiaShadow - 2014-01-24 21:41

    the wrong president woke up this morning to . really I'm so over this incompetent countrys leadership and officials

  • Erna Westdyk - 2014-01-24 21:47

    Discontinued in 2006, eight years ago, and our police is still using it! And we stand by our statement that "no live rounds" were used. But whatever we used, it kills people.

  • Ceba Mlandu - 2014-01-24 21:55

    Police need to use live rounds all the time. This rubber bullet nonsense is stupid. No longer "dubula ibhunu" it's now "dubula the unruly protestor". Rubber bullets are for sissies

  • Jon Low - 2014-01-24 22:02


  • Kwinda Eric - 2014-01-24 22:05

    u suspend dem,de ar nw going 2 bomb de atm's coz de ar wel trained in weapons.

      Tersia Louw - 2014-01-24 23:04

      But clearly not too well trained in weapons...

  • Sunday23 - 2014-01-24 22:09

    That's a old one...

  • Barney Klaasin - 2014-01-24 22:12

    Dear Minister you seem to distances yourself from police wrongdoing.Your man on the ground did kill people during protest and never heard you condem their actions or sympathise with effected families.Marikana,Andries Katana,water killings.Roodepoort.other police brutalities etc.You seems untouchable but nothing last forever.There s blood on your hands

  • Elliot Menziwa - 2014-01-24 22:20

    What about Marikana massacre any disciplinary measures against the police ...2014 being an election year.. action is taken promptly.

  • Andre Janse van Rensburg - 2014-01-24 22:39

    SSG is not appropriate for crowd control unless you really want to kill the people protesting. It just show how incompetent the minister is. In any other country he would be sacked, it is very sad indeed that we have such poor leadership in this country.

  • Rodger Synclair - 2014-01-24 22:43

    I have not even finished the second paragraph, and I am already commenting! Read this, The SSG 12-gauge rounds, which contain pellets, were officially discontinued by the SA Police Service in 2006, and were "not supposed to be used" In slightly different words, The SSG 12-gauge rounds, which contain pellets, were officially discontinued by SA Police Service in 2006, thereby rendering the use of this ammunition illegal. I applaud the SAPS Minister for coming clean, nonetheless.... A huge thumbs-up!

      Langa Kapueja - 2014-01-25 09:07

      This is beyond shooting yourself on the foot...but will never prove fatal for his position because South Africa is run like an action video game...Our authorities have infinite lives to mess up and try all over again.

  • Altus Kirsten - 2014-01-24 22:49

    Pre-1994 is too far back. Ouch!

  • Rodger Synclair - 2014-01-24 22:50

    Now that I have finished reading the last paragraph, 185 shots & water delivery protests! Start filling your bottles, Trolls...

  • Anthony Richardson - 2014-01-24 23:25

    After Marikana, Andries Tatane another 5 people killed in 2 separate incidents at the hands of the police? In any other civilised democracy, the minister of police would be out of a job, so would the commissioner. But I forget, we are neither a democracy nor civilised

  • Jenifer Johnstone - 2014-01-24 23:44

    Police using the death penalty on the wrong people ,use it on child rapists and murderers .

  • jungleboy - 2014-01-25 00:21

    Anywhere else in the world the minister would have resigned in disgrace but this one just keeps on boring us with lies and spin. Time for him and his wicked party to go

  • Maru Sebata - 2014-01-25 00:24

    Vicarious liability Mr Minister ! If they were not removed frm various ammo store rooms it means SAPS made them available 4 deployment not individuals ! Suspend th principal being the employer in this case ! It's unwise for Mthethwa 2 reveal this things! His revelations hv made th case against th state solid & he is going 2 loose th case against th 14 policemen !

  • Woordelys - 2014-01-25 00:53

    Here's an idea: yellow stickers for "rubber bullets", blue stickers for "shoot to kill bullets". I give up. How do you use the wrong bullets?

  • Elsbeth Bertha Verhoeven - 2014-01-25 01:32

    This is probably now a proof that when you were asked to hand in your weapons to have it destroyed they did not do it and kept it for other purposes. So who can you still trust? What is wrong with these guys?

  • Lucas Werner Pretorius - 2014-01-25 01:43

    SSG rounds were discontinued in 2006? I think them mocrazie was also discontinued in 1999. How can we still have insufficiently trained policemen? 80+% matric pass rate my foot. Most of these policemen are untrainable as they cannot read properly, just like a certain number one. You must be able to read and understand. Jumbling words together is for grade 2 students at the very worst.

  • Malebo Kotu-rammopo - 2014-01-25 02:39

    Thank you Minister for admitting liability for wrongful loss of life. Now will you settle when the families sue govt or spend millions of our hard-earned tax money in defending the indefensible?

  • Erna Westdyk - 2014-01-25 02:47

    Am I mistaken in thinking the that this is an admission of massive proportions and makes the whole police force, including the minister, look almighty stupid? Instead of just suspending the cops who did the shooting, shouldn't people who are responsible that this ammunitiation is still being used be fired on the spot?

  • Andre Wagener - 2014-01-25 03:24

    The SSG shotgun round is as live as they come. It wil kill a person more effectively up to a distance of 50 meters than most single shot calibres. So how can the minister say no live ammunition was used? Either this is misreported or the minister is either an idiot or a liar, or both. Discontinued live ammunition is still live ammunition. So maybe the minister is an illiterate as well.

      Lee Brand - 2014-01-25 06:44

      Idiot I think first, then liar. gave the game away by naming the round though. And its not discontinued - still available in the shops !

      Blue Marlin - 2014-01-25 08:51

      Andre, the minister does not have physical policing experience, same as Riah Phiyega. They dont have any firearm training, except for the APLA days, during which they didnt understand the context in which a firearm is used and how it works anyway. Its once again the ANC assigning people to positions which they are unqualified and incompetent for.

  • Ntando L Zangqa - 2014-01-25 03:37

    Admission of guilt....for the first time. Marikana??....Denial. Tatane?....denial. Now we're close to elections......I smell a settlement comming and dismisal of a few insignificant individuals. While Number One and His Crew will remain in their glorified positions. A Bunch Of zANCer's.

      Longile Bongani - 2014-01-25 06:14

      Spot on Ntando!

  • Rudolf Meiring - 2014-01-25 05:40

    why is Mthetwa not fired yet?

  • Coda - 2014-01-25 05:42

    NOOOOOOOOO Discountinued in 2006???? Unbelievable statement!!

  • Thembalethu Mdumane KaNtoyanto - 2014-01-25 05:56

    U see this 80% pass rate does to ou community its simpla police cnt read or understand documents, if it was communicated in 2006 to stop using these bullets now how on earth do they still have it?? Mtethwa is a pig with piglets uneducated only with matric 2 show

      Zuki Hlubi RalaRala - 2014-01-25 07:24

      Don't you think you are the worse pig who is out to undermine ather people what makes you think you are better , is it because you went to best universities in the world as a token of loyalty to apartheid government , you are the one of useless puppies who had opportunity to go to school and lost your roots in the process of new creation , look bhuti I know many people in the police who are far educated that you and even make a good living because they don't waist time on undermining people , you make alist of spoilt South Africans who make living out of crime and burn a tire to get a house while ather people are sweating

  • Longile Bongani - 2014-01-25 06:21

    Dear Mr Mthethwa As police minister YOU have ultimate control over who has access to these shotguns. If they were not supposed to be used, why did the officers have access to them. It is your fault as despite Marikana, despite Tatane, you have done NOTHING to prtevent more people dying at the hands of your officers. As a nation we call for your immediate dismissal

  • Lee Brand - 2014-01-25 06:30

    Shotgun ammo is graded by pellet size. Smallest is 9 birdshot that is seldom used. Common birdshot is 7.5. Then 5,3. Then you get SSG and SG for small game. These are the biggest pellets. Shells are marked with the size. If you load SSG for use against people, you are demonstrating an intent to kill those people.

      Lee Brand - 2014-01-25 06:37

      sorry - left out AA and AAA. My point being that there is only 1 grade bigger than SSG. When I was shooting stuff many years ago SSG was a bush/people clearing deadly round that could leave bad wounds up to 20m away.

      Hellenic Van der Merwe - 2014-01-25 06:52

      Lee I really don't think that the minster of police will understand what you've just explained here about the ammo. Surely doesn't know the difference. Eish. .Wrong ammo my A@ss

      Lee Brand - 2014-01-25 08:20

      Ja, clueless, but cops with any kind of firearms training will know this. As someone else said the other name for it is Buckshot, but you would never shoot a buck with it because meat damage would be excessive.

  • Erna Westdyk - 2014-01-25 06:31

    You know, while it is difficult to judge, it seems to me that Mthethwa seems quite proud and satisfied with this explanation. Doesn't he realise that he has just added to the police's culpability? To have used ammunition that was discontinued 6 years ago and to say that "no live ammunition was used" makes the whole episode even more disturbing, while he seems to think that it is a reasonable explanation why this happened. The mind boggles.

  • Terrence Schwartz - 2014-01-25 06:38

    The trouble is - post 94 they changed everything, even the things that worked!! Renamed/did away with units that made no logical sense. No more effective training, did one Nascom not say, oh! just let them write the exam again (after failing twice), pass them this time!! No wonder we have this situation.

  • Andrew M - 2014-01-25 06:53

    Did I read correctly ammunition that was discontinued in 2006 by SAPS was used in 2014 and not supposed to be used. How amazing no wonder the police are in such disarray, had these orders to discontinue using obsolete ammo been properly carried out, people would still be alive today. Once again the Minister and his Commissioner have proven how inept and useless they are.

      Bertie van der Ryst - 2014-01-25 08:56

      A little secret the saps don't mention, when the member tells his commander, my ammo are old please provide me with new ones - the answer - we don't have you must use what you have, recources are limited. Maar hulle koop bmw's audi's en mercedes's vir vip units.waar is die ou dae van lekker columshift hillux bakkies. In die dorp was dit vinnig genoeg, op die oop pad was hoeveelheid bakkies die geheim en nie spoed nie, suksesse was baie meer as vandag. Retired saps.

  • Rofhiwa Ronald - 2014-01-25 07:06

    the ssg 12-gauge rounds are officially scrapped off the roll in 2oo6 wy r u still keeping them in ur arsenall mr mthethwa .i think wen those police who used those rounds goes down even some from top management suppose to account for this brutal killings about wy they still keep these rounds on their arsenals

  • peterroy.logan - 2014-01-25 07:10

    Mr.Mthethwa,you seriously need to get a grip on your job,if you are unable to do so,then stand bounce from one disaster to another and all the while the people's of SA suffer because you are totally out of your abilities and depth in your portfolio

  • Craig Miller - 2014-01-25 07:15

    Would this action be taken if it wasn't an election year?

  • sesom - 2014-01-25 07:42

    The useless police again cause deaths....Get back the White Police...Enough is Enough..

      Bertie van der Ryst - 2014-01-25 08:44

      I salute you for this statement, BUT when the policemen are black they are useless, when the policemen are white they are racist. That is why white SAPS members don't volunteer to go to these situations anymore, and when they are Instructed to go, you will find them on the background, not willing to risk their careers because of incompetent Commanders. How can a Commander lead when he did not even received police training. Us the civilian south african citizens will never be happy.

  • Frans van Tubbergh - 2014-01-25 07:54

    Trigger happy, poorly trained as well as a lack of judgement. How is it possible to use the "wrong" ammo?????

  • Deon Somethingelse Namaseb - 2014-01-25 08:22

    Seems Madiba is speaking from beyond his grave, and he says: "if the ANC gov does unto you what the apartheid gov did, do unto the ANC what you did unto the apartheid gov" this is sad for a liberation movement with the history of the ANC to be doin this on a continued basis to its own people.... Killing blacks for demanding water???? WTF has happened to the ANC of Sizulu and Tambo?

  • Greg Williams - 2014-01-25 08:31

    When is Nathi gonna take responsibility for his Department and resign to give a competant person a chance to run it!!!

  • Stephanes Heunis - 2014-01-25 08:45

    The police cannot destroy this ammo because they (police) are the sole supplier off ammo to SA crimme underworld!

  • Sanet Oelofse - 2014-01-25 09:36

    Ignorance is not an excuse...

  • Ndangah Alan Mmberegeni - 2014-01-25 09:43

    Why members are not issued with sheild and tonfa, for crowd management.and why ssg round was issued to the members, members did stand parade, and do inspection. Who issued thosed the station level those did know that some ssg round is not sapposed to be used. Why giving them to the members?