Politician nabbed for gun
AN eThekwini councillor, who claimed to have received death threats, was arrested on Wednesday inside the Durban City Hall for carrying a firearm.
A source told the Daily News the councillor had claimed the unlicensed 9mm pistol had been handed to him earlier in the day by someone in the toilets at city hall.
Warrant Officers Deena Govender and David Cele of the Durban Organised Crime Unit – Cato Manor, and the Shongweni Dog Unit made the arrest after a tip-off.
The ANC councillor, 33, who is from Umlazi, was nabbed during the lunch break at a workshop on corruption and whistle-blowing. A quick frisk by police revealed the firearm tucked into the back of his pants and covered by a jacket.
He was immediately taken into custody and was expected to appear in the Durban Magistrate’s Court on Thursday, on a charge of being in possession of an unlicensed firearm.
eThekwini Speaker, Logie Naidoo, described this as a serious security breach and said since 1996 this was the first time anyone had breached security by breaking the firearm ban at city hall.
A source at city hall said the man told police he had the gun with him as protection.
He apparently said he had smses to prove that he was warned by people in the community that his life was in danger.
The threats, he claimed, started soon after he successfully contested the local government elections in his ward. He claimed he was afraid, especially after the recent killing of senior ANC leaders in the province.
The man allegedly said he did not take the gun into city hall himself, but had been given it during a brief exchange with another man in the toilets. The man is believed to be known to him.
A police source revealed the man was arrested after a tip-off from an informer. The source said that when the councillor came out for lunch he was confronted in the foyer, outside the conference room.
“The councillor was quizzed about the gun. He was then searched and the gun was found tucked into the back of his pants. He was questioned as to how he came into possession of the gun. He gave no answers.”
The source said the gun’s serial number had been filed off.
ANC secretary-general, Sihle Zikalala, said the allegations were shocking and surprising.
“We will definitely be following this investigation very closely. Once it is finalised we will decide what action to take. This kind of thing should never happen.
“A councillor is a public representative and any suggestion that he has flouted the law cannot and will not be tolerated. The carrying of an unlicensed firearm is a serious offence. There should be no reason why a councillor should be armed.”
Zikalala said in light of the recent political killings, including that of eThekwini ANC secretary-general, S’bu Sibiya, and ANC councillor, Wiseman Mshibe, these allegations were worrying.
It has also been alleged that when the armed, plainclothes policemen went into city hall they were not searched. The security scanners beeped, but the security guards allegedly failed to check for weapons.
Naidoo confirmed the councillor had been held by the Hawks.
“We call on police to conduct a thorough investigation into this matter. We cannot defend the carrying of firearms into city hall. Everyone, including councillors, knows that guns, or any weapons for that matter, are banned on the premises.
“We will definitely not tolerate any councillors breaking the rules.”
Naidoo said they would wait for the criminal investigation to be finalised before making any decisions.
“If he is found guilty, the matter will then come before me and necessary action will be taken. For an offence such as this, a councillor could face suspension. The penalty will have to be discussed with the MEC for Local Government, Nomusa Dube. But it is an offence that is viewed in a very serious light.”
Naidoo said that an immediate investigation would be conducted into how the gun managed to get past security and into city hall.
“I will be speaking to the city manager, Michael Sutcliffe. We need answers as to how the gun got in and under what circumstances.”
He said that security would definitely be heightened at city hall.
“We cannot have people walking into government buildings with guns. It is not allowed. If investigations show our security was lackadaisical in its approach, action will be taken.”