Court victory for cops over seizure of alleged gang boss Stanfield's guns
The Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) has found in favour of the police by ruling their holding on to Stanfield’s seized firearms was justified.
In June 2014, police had used a warrant to confiscate firearms from Stanfield, his sister Francisca and girlfriend Nicole Johnson.
The trio were arrested and charged with various offences relating to the unlawful issuing of firearm licences.
In July that year, they launched an application against police in the Western Cape High Court.
In an answering affidavit, police alleged the firearms’ licences had been obtained unlawfully. Then, by agreement, the court ordered that police may keep the firearms until obliged to return them.
The trio then approached the High Court in Johannesburg for an order compelling police to return the firearms to them, or alternatively, that the matter be referred to an inquiry.
They claimed the charges against them had been withdrawn and that the firearms ought to be returned.
But police contended that the charges were only provisionally withdrawn.
According to the SCA judgment, Jan Lewis Bezuidenhout, a data capturer, worked in Olifantsfontein, where the trio applied for their licences.
In order to apply for a licence, a written application and a competency certificate must be delivered to the designated firearm officer.
“He stated that no written applications were submitted by the respondents or received by the Central Firearms Register for either a licence or a competency certificate.
“No copies of the applications and proof of payment have been attached to the respondents’ affidavits. The appellants contended that this is because such documents do not exist,” the judgment read.
“The central issue in this case is not whether the respondents are unfit to possess firearms, but whether the firearms were justifiably retained by the appellants in terms of the Criminal Procedure Act. That issue has been answered in favour of the appellants,” the court ruled.
The Police Ministry said they were consulting regarding the judgment.