5 reasons R-5's have no place in crowd control

5 reasons R-5's have no place in crowd control


1. R-5’s were found by the Farlam Commission of Inquiry to have bullets that tend to disintegrate.

“The evidence indicates that R5 bullets tend to disintegrate when entering the body of a victim. This is what happened at Marikana. As a result it is not possible on the ballistic evidence to connect any [police] member who shot at Marikana with any person who died” [1] Point 42 on page 248 of the Marikana Report

“Farlam said this was the reason the commission had been unable to establish exactly which police officer shot at which miner on August 16. This makes holding individual officers accountable for killings at Marikana, and other operations like it, extremely difficult” [2]

2. R-5’s have a greater risk of killing bystanders.

“Farlam said, one of those killed was a young man who went to the koppie to bring his uncle lunch. He was shot 200 metres away from ‘scene one’… a bullet fired from an R5 rifle will travel for up to 600 metres after it is fired. The risk of injuring bystanders was therefore significantly increased…. unless you know exactly what is behind your target for 595 metres.” [2]

3. Experts warned that R-5’s violate international policing best practice and had no place in crowd control.

“According to the Farlam Commision R-5’s “significantly increase the risk of injury”. The police were also given specific advice by an international policing expert that the use of R-5s was “totally unacceptable” [2]

“An R5 assault rifle is based on the Israeli Galil, which was inspired by the AK47. It is a lighter, more compact version of the R4 (see comparison of specs in table below); the R4 is an assault rifle that was used by the South African Defence Force (SADF) in 1980, especially in the border war with Angola.
The R5 was introduced into service with the South African Police in the late 1980's, at the height of police oppression during apartheid. Both R4 and R5 rifles are produced by Denel Land Systems (DLS), formerly Lyttleton Engineering Works” [3]


“In March 2013 Mr de Rover called for the immediate withdrawal of R5 assault rifle use in crowd control. As the Farlam report notes, “one of the first recommendations Mr De Rover made to the National Commissioner was to withdraw R5 rifles from the Public Order Police” [4] as “(a)utomatic rifle fire does not have a place in law enforcement,” being “guaranteed deadly.” [4]

4. R-5’s are a legacy of ‘apartheid’ era police brutality.

The R-5 was introduced into service with the South African Police in the late 1980’s at the height of police oppression during ‘apartheid’ [5]. If the state is not at war with it’s own people, why are R-5's a military grade assault rifle being used for crowd control. 

5. R-5’s have no future in a demilitarised police service as a tool for crowd control.

It’s already estimated that a protester is shot every 4 days at the hands of police [6], recognising the problem of police brutality, “South Africa’s aspirational 2030 National Development Plan (NDP) calls for the professionalisation and demilitarisation of the police service; an objective embraced in the 2015 Draft White Paper on the Police which asserts the “need for a police service that forms part of an integrated criminal justice system; and which is demilitarised, professional and community-centric, as well as accountable and highly skilled” [7]

Click here to add your voice to the campaign to stop R-5's for crowd control


P.S. Dear gun lobby, before you start your vile threats of violence, sexual assault and misinformation, we encourage you to read the above carefully. We are calling for R-5's not to be used by police for crowd control. 

[1] Marikana Commission of Inquiry Report.

[2] Farlam: Police use of deadly R5 rifles 'unacceptable', The Mail & Guardian, 10 September 2014

[3] Vektor R4 and variants,, 26 October 2014.

[4] Bruce, D. 2015. Summary and Analysis of the report of the Marikana Commission of Inquiry. Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution (CASAC):, paragraph 1038 p355 and paragraph 1040 p356.

[5] South African Police Special Task Force: (accessed 26 October 2014).

[6] City Press. 2014. 1 protester shot dead every 4 days, City Press, 6 February 2014:
dead-every-4-days-20150429 (accessed 17 August 2015).

[7] Civilian Secretariat for Police. 2015. Draft White Paper on the Police, p7.