Msunduzi security hands guns to police

2019-05-31 14:03
Foto ter illustrasie....FOTO: ANDRE DAMONS

Foto ter illustrasie....FOTO: ANDRE DAMONS (File)

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The City’s security has been left vulnerable after the SAPS National Intervention Unit (NIU) seized a large number of municipal firearms yesterday.

More than a dozen NIU officers apparently marched into Msunduzi’s traffic headquarters in Washington Road and took most of the firearms used by the traffic and security officers as well as by the anti-land invasion unit.

Reliable sources told The Witness that the officers told them their guns were being taken for ballistic testing to check if they were linked to any crimes, especially political violence.

However, Msunduzi said it was part of a routine “monthly” firearm audit.

Municipal spokesperson Ntobeko Ngcobo said: “This exercise is the prerogative [of the police] in terms of the Firearms Control Act which the municipality has a duty to comply with.”

She said the City will allow the police to conduct the audit, then “advise the municipality on the outcome of their audit”.

Sources at City Hall said it did not come as a surprise to them that the guns were seized as the City is under a cloud of allegations of non-compliance with regulations.

There were previous media reports that some firearms were missing.

“The municipal management will have to account for the guns that are missing or used to commit crime under their watch.

“In the meantime most of their traffic and security officers are vulnerable to attacks because everyone now knows that they don’t have firearms and we don’t even know when they’re coming back,” said another source.

Others suspected yesterday’s seizure could be linked to an ongoing investigation into last year’s murder of a former ANC councillor Musawenkosi “Maqatha” Mchunu, who was gunned down as he entered the gate at his home in KwaPata.

“It would be so unfortunate if any of the guns are found to have been responsible for taking a person’s life because the municipality gives them to us to protect its citizens, not to assassinate people,” said one traffic officer.

When approached about the firearms being seized, Msunduzi mayor Themba Njilo said he was busy in meetings for most of the day and could not comment on the matter as he did not have any information on it.

He referred The Witness to Msunduzi’s head of security, Kwenza Khumalo, who said he was un­aware that the firearms may have been taken for ballistic testing. “No one has told us that. In terms of the Firearms Act, the responsible person for all the arms and ammunition is the municipal manager,” said Khumalo.

“The municipal manager then delegates authority to certain people, however, I am not one of them.

“The understanding I had was that police had come in to do an audit. Police have a duty to audit us. It is embedded in the Act that they are responsible for conducting spot checks.”

Khumalo said if they were checking firearms for political killings, he had no knowledge of it.

However, he said “it could be” that police did take the guns for testing.

“It is better to talk to police,” he added.

Attempts to get comment from the NIU yesterday were unsuccessful.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg

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