Police insiders have confirmed that criminal syndicates are significantly outgunning them with high-powered assault rifles by hiring them for the day, week or month.
Speaking to the Pretoria News, the insiders said that there had been an increase in attacks in and around the city over the past year, with criminals using AK-47, R5 and R1 assault rifles.
Further investigation into the use of the automatic weapons revealed a growing trend where smaller criminal gangs hired assault rifles from larger syndicates for a day, week or month.
While purchasing an AK-47 on the black market could cost anything between R1,000 and R1,800, smaller criminal gangs that cannot afford large sums of money hire the rifles for between R100 and R250 each.
Dr Johan Burger, senior researcher at the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) believes that this was part of a culture shift towards heavier arming among criminals.
“One of the main reasons criminals preferred the AK-47 was that it was intimidating to its victims and the most feared, especially during cash-in transit heists.”
He confirmed that the weapons were still regularly available through smuggling routes used during apartheid, and that the border between South Africa, Swaziland and Mozambique was a particular problem.”