13 April 2010
More than 32 000 firearms were recovered across South Africa during the latest firearms amnesty, Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa said in Pretoria following the passing of Sunday’s deadline for people to hand over their illegal firearms without facing prosecution.
The largest number of firearms was recovered in Gauteng province, followed by Kwazulu-Natal and the Western Cape respectively.
‘A success story’
Speaking to reporters, Mthethwa said that of the 32 169 firearms surrendered at 240 police stations throughout the amnesty period, 27% were illegal. He described the campaign, dubbed Awlethu mshini wakho (surrender your firearm), as a success story in the battle against crime and illegal weapons.
“Our figures indicate that 53% of these [firearms] were voluntarily surrendered. This is most pleasing because prior to the launch of the amnesty there were doubts as to whether people would surrender illegal firearms.”
Road blocks, search and seizures
Mthethwa said the strategy adopted by the police throughout the period was also to ensure that the process was accompanied by intensified and focused police operations in the form of roadblocks and search-and-seizures.
With regard to the firearms handed in Gauteng and Kwazulu-Natal, Mthethwa said the figures were encouraging, considering that these provinces experienced the highest level of violent crime, much of which involved firearms.
Both Gauteng and Kwazulu-Natal needed to be commended for the number of firearms confiscated by police operations during the amnesty period, he said.
One of the provisions of the amnesty declaration was that all illegal firearms surrendered during the amnesty period be destroyed within six months.
Mthethwa said that between January and April this year, an estimated 109 582 firearms were destroyed, adding that the destructions contributed to public confidence in the process.