Arms dealer goes to court for licences

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Independent Newspapers

Dave Sheer Guns director Gareth de Nysschen leaves the Lenasia Magistrate's Court in August after appearing briefly for allegedly dealing in stolen military ammunition. File photo: Timothy Bernard

Pretoria - Africa’s biggest arms and ammunition dealer, Dave Sheer Guns, has successfully turned to the courts to expedite their application for licences to import arms and ammunition from countries like Russia, China and Turkey.

The company has been accused of paying bribes to (now suspended) section head of the Central Firearms Registry (CFR), Brigadier Mathapelo Mangwani, in exchange for securing gun licences.

While the Hawks are busy investigating allegations that the director of Dave Sheer Guns, Gareth de Nysschen, paid bribes to Mangwani to allegedly fast-track gun licences, he and two other gun dealers turned to the Pretoria High Court for help as they have waited for months to obtain export and import licences.

De Nysschen, who is also facing a criminal charge relating to allegedly dealing in stolen military ammunition, said they have been waiting since May for the go-ahead, but had heard nothing to date.

As the police did not oppose the application nor filed an opposing affidavit, Judge Neil Tuchten yesterday ordered that the acting head of the CFR, Brigadier Lebese, or the minister of police, had to issue the import and export licences to Dave Sheer Guns, Nicholas Yale CC and African Adrenalin Safaris Ltd.

The bribery allegations involving De Nysschen and Mangwani earlier this year made headlines, but these allegations as well as the allegations regarding the criminal charge against him were vigorously denied by De Nysschen.

He severely criticised the functioning of the CFR in court papers, saying it has virtually come to a standstill.

“Since the implementation of the Firearms Control Act, the workings of the CFR have been plagued by controversy… A substantial number of staff changes took place, including the replacement of senior management.”

De Nysschen, in sketching a bleak picture of the CFR, referred to the fact that the Public Protector as far back as 2007 identified a number of shortcomings in that office, which he said had not improved.

He said an investigation into the CFR was in fact under way.

“The administration of the CFR has, at best, been extremely lacking. I am advised that over 200 court orders have been granted against it over failure to comply with the Promotion of Administrative Justice Act. One of the biggest difficulties that individual firearm licence applicants and dealers have is that there are no policy guidelines setting out the steps to be taken in any administrative process involving the CFR.”

He referred to the Hawks investigation regarding the suspension of Mangwani in which he is implicated, but said he “categorically denied” any involvement in corrupt activities. He also said he was defending the criminal charge against him and his licence to trade has not been suspended.

The Star newspaper earlier reported that police commissioner General Riah Phiyega had sent a letter to De Nysschen informing him they intended to cancel his dealers licence. This letter was apparently a direct result of the charge of allegedly dealing in stolen military ammunition De Nysschen is facing in the Lenasia Magistrate’s Court.

His attorney, Martin Hood said then the allegations were unproved and no stolen ammunition was found on his clients’ premises.

Pretoria News Weekend

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