Arms cache shames ANC

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The Independent Online
THE CREDIBILITY of the African National Congress in the fight against crime - the top issue in the South African elections - is in question after the news that the party owns some 300 guns and that its weapons have been used in at least three violent attacks.

The ANC, which is on course for a two-thirds majority in the 2 June elections, refused to comment yesterday on how it squared its manifesto call for tougher gun control with the existence of a party arsenal.

The police confirmed that the ANC was the only political party with a corporate gun licence and that it was registered as owning 154 12-bore shotguns, 148 9mm short pistols and a further 15 9mm pistols.

Superintendent Andrew Lesch of police support services said that at least 13 of the ANC's 317 firearms had been reported missing or stolen. Others had been used since March - at an armed robbery in Cape Town, an attempted murder in KwaZulu Natal and an unspecified crime in Johannesburg. But those weapons had not been reported missing or stolen.

Yesterday, an ANC spokesman said: "If there is a problem with the guns of the ANC and if any member of the public has a problem, they are welcome to contact the police. We will answer only to the police."

The ANC will enjoy a landslide victory in the country's second multi- race national elections next month, because no other party has a support base to rival it. But in polls in the nine provinces, also on 2 June, the 25 smaller parties are expected to make headway, using issues such as crime and unemployment.

The ANC government, in power since 1994 and opposed to the death penalty, said in itselection manifesto that the party will "drastically reduce the number of guns in circulation and introduce tougher gun controls".

n A cache of arms and ammunition, exceeding seven tons and described as "enough to start a war" has been uncovered in KwaZulu-Natal. The weaponry is believed to have been supplied by the convicted apartheid police assassin, Eugene de Kock, to the Zulu nationalist Inkatha Freedom Party in 1994.