While the festive season is supposed to be a happy, relaxing period, there is also a marked increase in opportunistic crimes. The City of Cape Town has warned its residents to be vigilant, as it has confiscated 25 firearms, 28 imitation firearms and 336 rounds of ammunition between July and November.
In that time period, there have also been 72 persons arrested, resulting in a total of 106 charges. The charges included possession of illegal/prohibited firearms, pointing a firearm and discharging a firearm in a municipal area, among others.
“The confiscations and subsequent arrests are testament to the benefits of visible policing and dedication of the officers involved. They work under very trying circumstances, but one firearm less on our streets is potentially a life saved. We thank the officers, but also the residents who work with our staff by providing tip offs and leads that result in positive results,” Metro Police Chief, Wayne Le Roux, said in a statement. “The firearm confiscations are also crucial to solving other crimes, as weapons are sent for ballistic testing that could link the weapons and the arrested suspects to other incidents. So the impact is quite far-reaching.”
In terms of the Firearms Control Act, an imitation firearm is anything that has the appearance of a firearm, but is not capable of operating as such and cannot, by superficial examination, be identified as an imitation. The Act also prohibits the possession of such imitation firearms.
“The increase in imitation firearms is not surprising. They are easier to get hold of, can fool most people into believing it is the real thing and it is likely that criminals believe they will face a lesser charge in the event that they are caught. This is an unfortunate misperception as suspects are charged in terms of the legislation, even if an imitation firearm was used in the commission of a crime. Furthermore, enforcement agencies could well end up reacting to a person in possession of an imitation firearm, which could also have dire consequences for them,” Le Roux added.
In addition to the firearm confiscations, the City’s Metro Police Department also confiscated 63 dangerous weapons in the first quarter of the current financial year – an increase of more than 100% when compared to the corresponding period the year before.
“The successes stem from an increase in search and seizure operations in known crime hotspots. As we head into the busy festive season period, our Metro Police officers will increase their operations and deploy in areas based on crime threat analysis. We also encourage the public to continue passing on tips and information that can help bring criminals to book, as their assistance has proven to be invaluable,” said the City’s Mayco Member for Safety and Security, JP Smith.