Gun and ammunition, by pxfuel.
Gun and ammunition, by pxfuel.

During today’s urgent meeting of the Portfolio Committee on Police, the DA grilled the South African Police Service (SAPS) over allegations that a container with more than 1.5 million rounds of ammunition was looted at the  Mobeni industrial area near Durban.

A report by Netwerk24 alleges that the loot took place on Wednesday evening and that sources have stated that the ammunition, imported from Brazil, would have ordinarily been shipped to Cape Town. It is unclear why the ammunition had been shipped to Durban.

It is also being claimed that someone in the police apparently delayed giving permission for the truck, which carried the container, to transport the ammunition to Gauteng.

The DA is also of the view that it would have been impossible for this incident to occur without the willful cooperation from some within the South African Police Service (SAPS), who would have been involved in safeguarding this ammunition. The looters would’ve have required extensive amount of support to carry out this act.

To get to the bottom of this, the DA asked SAPS the following questions during the Committee meeting:

  • Whether SAPS could confirms if the incident had in fact occurred;
  • If any members of the SAPS involved;
  • What immediate steps have been taken to retrieve this ammunition; and
  • How this incident affected the SAPS’ response to the ongoing violence, given that 1 million rounds of ammunition being missing invariably elevates the threat level of the current unrest?

These allegations coincide with a report in the Mail & Guardian this morning claiming that the violent riots, looting, and burning of businesses and malls were simply the first stage of a larger concerted strategy to destabilise the country.

Could it therefore be that the alleged looting of 1.5 million rounds of ammunition, wasn’t merely a coincidence, but rather an orchestrated attempt to access ammunition to support further attacks?

The SAPS have confirmed the incident as well as arrests linked to the theft. A case has been opened and a team has been assembled to trace the missing ammunition.

SAPS however missed an opportunity to clarify whether SAPS members were involved considering the ammunition was allegedly under SAPS protection.

I have now written directly to the National Police Commissioner to establish all of the facts and await his response.

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Andrew Whitfield MP is the DA Shadow Minister of Police.

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