QUESTION NO 49
OF PUBLICATION IN INTERNAL QUESTION PAPER: 29 FEBRUARY 2000
QUESTION PAPER NO 9
8 MARCH 2000
Annelizé Van Wyk to ask the Minister for Safety and Security:
any progress has been made with the audit of arms and ammunition of state
departments and state organs that was ordered by his predecessor in 1998; if not
why not; if so, (a) what progress, (b) in light of the finalisation of the
Firearms Control Bill, what additional resources will be required for the
completion of this audit and (c) when will (i) this audit be completed and (ii)
the final report on this audit be tabled in Parliament?
department identified the specific need for an audit of this nature and
therefore my predecessor, together with the Minister of Defence, appointed a
special task group consisting of members of the South African Police Service and
of the South African National Defence Force in March 1996. In July 1997 Ms
Sheena Duncan was appointed as civilian facilitator to the team to assist in
facilitating good relationships with the relevant MEC’s in the Provinces and
their administrative structures, as well as the Local Government associations.
task group, the Joint Investigation Team (JIT), has the mandate to investigate
firearms records of state departments at all levels, including the governments
of the former homelands, and local authorities; and to look for and recover
firearms which are missing or have been illegally retained or hidden in arms
caches by these structures.
has turned out to be an investigation of massive proportions. The reality of the
situation is that the Central Firearms Register only has records of 4% of all
stock previously issued to the now SANDF. The JIT reported to the Ministry in
October 1998, that proof exists that literally tens of thousands of firearms
previously issued to the previous SANDF and the forces of the 11 homelands have
duplicate or triplicate numbers. This means that there may be up to three
firearms with exactly the same description, calibre, make, model and the same
serial number thereby making it extremely difficult to establish proof of
current custody of the firearms.
stock is being carried in SANDF strong rooms and positive steps are being taken
to destroy surplus stock. Preparations to commence with Operation Mouflon,
whereby 260 000 firearms will be destroyed, have reached a final stage with
financial assistance from the Norwegian government.
National Commissioner of the South African Police Service has instructed that
all redundant and obsolete firearms in SAPS stock must be cleared from all SAPS
strong rooms countrywide in order to be destroyed.
focus of the audit at the national level has been on the SANDF, SAPS, Home
Affairs and Correctional Services, but some other departments such as Land
Affairs have also co-operated willingly.
auditing of firearms in four of the nine provinces - North West, KwaZulu-Natal,
Eastern Cape and Gauteng is almost finalised. These provinces were chosen to
start with because the first three include former homelands which had
considerable numbers of firearms in the possession of the agencies of their
governments. Gauteng was included as a priority because of the very high rate of
firearms- related crime in that Province.
voluntary handing in of firearms resulted in a delay in the audit process. The
following firearms and ammunition was voluntarily handed in during 1999
of Land Affairs
(b) The Firearms Control Bill
will not directly affect the work of JIT, except to make it desirable that the
audit be completed as soon as possible. The JIT is under-staffed at the moment
and requires more personnel from the SAPS. This issue is being addressed within
the confines of other budgetary priorities.
(c)(i)&(ii) It is difficult to
make a prediction exactly when the audit will be completed. It has been
difficult to trace the firearms owned by now defunct government departments such
as Bantu Administration and homeland administrations, as well as those
distributed to different agencies in the past, without any proper records having
being kept. Added complications have been examples of departments such as Land
Affairs which is a national department, but where there are also separate
departments of Land Affairs in the Provinces, as well as offices of the national
department in the provinces. The new municipalities to be created following the
demarcation process will also cause some difficulties in the audit due to the
reallocation of responsibilities for firearms control from several local
authorities to one new one.
have also take note of the draft resolution introduced by the Honourable Member
to the House in this regard on 1 March 2000. Most of the issues raised in the
resolution have been dealt with in my response. I am also satisfied that the
work of the JIT is being expedited, given the myriad of obstacles facing the
Team as described above. Once the investigation has been completed, the JIT will
be providing me with a final report, as well as making certain recommendations,
which I will then consider.