Police at Thohoyandou have arrested one of their own, a 47-year-old male warrant officer on charges of negligent loss of a firearm, defeating the ends of justice and perjury.
The policeman was arrested on Wednesday, according to Limpopo police spokesperson, Brigadier Hlulani Mashaba.
“It is reported that the suspect (the police officer) lied under oath on Tuesday, November 7, when he alleged that he was robbed of his service-issued firearm by unknown suspects while he was driving,” said Mashaba.
The 47-year-old warrant officer, who cannot be named until he appears in court, insisted that he was stopped on the street, suddenly grabbed and robbed.
The policeman was not injured.
“A case of common robbery was opened and investigations conducted. Finally, it was found that the firearm was negligently lost by the suspect on Wednesday November 1, at Venda Plaza,” said Mashaba.
“The suspect willingly made a misinterpretation of the statement under oath and created a fake crime scene.”
Through intensified investigations, Mashaba said the lost firearm was recovered. Subsequently, the police officer was arrested.
The arrested man is on Thursday expected to appear before the Thohoyandou Magistrate's Court.
Last month, IOL reported that the South African Police Service (SAPS) has lost more than 700 firearms in the last financial year, considerably higher than its projected losses.
At the time, the police said one of the reasons for the loss of so many state-issued firearms was that they were stolen from members of the SAPS.
Criminals target police officers in different parts of the country.
However, the police said they were worried about the escalation of crime against officers.
The SAPS said some of the firearms are stolen from their offices.
“In 2022/23, 742 firearms owned by the SAPS were confirmed as stolen or lost, which is 142 more than the set target of 600,” said the police in the annual report that was tabled in Parliament.
“The loss of SAPS-owned firearms can be attributed to various factors, including the escalation of crime against members, including, but not limited to, robbery in townships or other places, housebreaking, theft from offices/stores, negligent loss by members and the loss of property during motor vehicle accidents,” it said.
“The Provisioning Administration System was improved, to ensure the accuracy of data and to facilitate the reporting of lost or stolen firearms. The certification and biannual inspections of firearms are in place to prevent losses. When incidents involving lost firearms occur, relevant legal requirements are being implemented.”