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The political and military situation is relatively stable in South Africa; however, the country still has very high levels of chronic interpersonal violence, mainly due to significant socio-economic inequalities.1 As a result of this ongoing violence, the country also faces high levels of weapons and ammunition trafficking.2 In 1997, South Africa declared that it had completed landmine clearance operations.3

The African Union; the Regional Centre on Small Arms in the Great Lakes Region, the Horn of Africa and Bordering States (RECSA); the Multinational Small Arms and Ammunition Group (MSAG); and the Bonn International Centre for Conflict Studies (BICC) are working on the ground to support the through-life management of ammunition, in collaboration with the South African Ministry of Defence. Efforts have included providing regional training on physical security and stockpile management, organising train-the-trainer programmes on ammunition management and creating a regional database of ongoing and completed interventions in the field of small arms and light weapons control.4

1 Steven Friedman, “Violence in South Africa: An Uprising of Elites, Not of the People,” The Conversation, July 22, 2021,

2 Philip Alpers, Miles Lovell and Michael Picard, South Africa – Gun Facts, Figures and the Law (, Sydney School of Public Health, University of Sydney, 2022),

3 “South Africa Completes Destroying Its Stockpile of Anti-Personnel Mines,” South African History Online, October 30, 1997,  

4 “Ammunition Management Activity Platform (A-MAP),” GICHD, 2022,

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Map of South Africa

Further information

Accidental explosions

Since the Small Arms Survey began collecting data in 1979, one accidental explosion has been reported in South Africa.

Table 1. Accidental explosions in South Africa (1979–2021)







Somerset West

Non-state (company)



Source: “Unplanned Explosions at Munitions Sites (UEMS) Database,” Small Arms Survey, updated December 15, 2021,

Cases of diversion

Several cases of diversion have been reported since 2004 in South Africa.

Table 2. Cases of diversion of arms, ammunition and explosives in South Africa since 2004






158 firearms (including R5, R1 and AK-47 assault rifles) disappeared from the Norwood police station.



7,618 rounds of 5.56 mm ammunition, 340 rounds of 5.45 mm and 7.62 mm ammunition, and 57 R4 and R5 assault rifles were either stolen or lost in a 32-month period.



An internal police report stated that the police had lost 20,429 weapons between 2004 and 2011.

Source: Jana Smit, “26 025 Police Guns Stolen or 'Missing',” Citypress, January 23, 2022,; “Dozens of Military Weapons Lost or Stolen over Last Three Years,” defenceWeb, November 4, 2020,; “'South African Police Lost 20,000 Guns',” BBC News, March 9, 2011,


Insufficient information on the disposal of ammunition in South Africa.


No needs have been identified for South Africa.1

1 South Africa, National Report on the Implementation of the Programme of Action on Small Arms and Light Weapons (PoA) and the International Tracing Instrument (ITI) (New York: Permanent Mission of South Africa to the UN, 2014),

Published Date: Monday 20 of November 2023