Editorial | Aspects of gun shop theft don’t add up
The front page news of an arsenal of weapons missing from a Port Elizabeth gun dealer – with several possibly having been used in assassinations – is extremely serious.
Extensive police investigations are under way and East Cape Gun Traders – and specifically its owner, named as 79-year-old Anthony Lombard – must now assist with answers to several other pressing questions. First of these is why there is no record of any theft. Gun dealers are compelled by law to comply with the Firearms Control Act, which includes keeping accurate records, such as an inventory of stock.
It is also mandatory to report missing firearms so the stated omission by the owner to report the loss – allegedly around 170 weapons – is therefore not only gross negligence, but also a criminal offence.
Second, the size of the missing stash is also incredible – 170 guns are enough to start a war and it does not add up that Lombard did not notice that they were missing. How can a business afford to sustain such a loss? Were the firearms not insured?
In addition to these concerns, what about the safety of neighbours? Charlo is a residential area and many neighbours would have been unaware of the potentially dangerous nature of Lombard’s business.
It is slightly reassuring to know the police have since confiscated 359 firearms at East Cape Gun Traders and closed down the shop. Residents of Constance Road can sleep a little more soundly knowing that they no longer are living next door to an armoury.
However, another headache is that so far only about 20 of the 170 or so missing weapons have been recovered.
Where are they? Are they also in the hands of gangsters, assassins and other criminals?
It does not make sense and leads to one more burning question: in light of the above, why has the owner not yet been held accountable for what appears to be gross negligence? The police have said the matter is in the hands of the NPA. We urge this authority to investigate promptly, and then to take suitable and swift action.