Cape Town. 110915. Colonel Christiaan Prinsloo, 55, who was arrested in Vereeniging and is also accused of selling or giving guns meant for destruction to gangsters leaves the Bellville Magistrates court after his appearance. Picture Leon Lestrade. Story Wendyl Martin.

Cape Town - Former police colonel Chris Prinsloo, who was involved in the illegal gun trade, has been sentenced to 18 years’ imprisonment for a string of charges, including corruption, racketeering and theft.

The former Gauteng top cop was arrested as part of a lengthy investigation into gangsters and the illegal gun trade in the Western Cape last year.

He entered into a plea agreement with the State at the Bellville Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday.

Prinsloo, a veteran police officer with almost 35 years under his belt, was in charge of Gauteng’s firearm licensing and was believed to have sold 2 400 firearms between 2007 and 2015, along with his co-accused, Allen Raves.

Raves, a National Heritage Act inspector of firearms, is out on bail.

The two allegedly made about R2 million from their illegal activities.

Prinsloo, 55, was arrested in Vereeniging at the beginning of last year in connection with the theft of 750 rounds of ammunition.

The bullets were found at his home.

On Tuesday, he pleaded guilty to 11 charges.

He admitted that he was guilty of the crimes.

The State argued that he would have continued with his crimes had he not been arrested.

Prinsloo did not prioritise his duties as a police officer because of the money he had made from his illegal activities, according to the State.

The State said Prinsloo damaged the reputation of the police service and did not hesitate to use police resources derived from taxpayers for many years to commit crimes while still earning his salary as a police officer.

The State argued that his crimes were of a serious nature and that he should be given the maximum sentence.

The plea agreement said everyone had a right to safety, including the right to be free from violence, and because Prinsloo misused firearms and ammunition, he had violated the public’s rights.

The State said it was mandated to protect the public’s right to safety and it was his job to protect the community.

Instead of doing that, he had neglected his duties and sold firearms to criminals, and thus contributed to the country’s high crime rate.

His lawyers said he had pleaded guilty because he wanted to save the State resources and the court’s time.

Prinsloo’s lawyer, Grant Smith, told the court that since Prinsloo was arrested, he had co-operated with the police.

He had led them to the location where the weapons were delivered and was willing to undertake life-threatening operations in assisting the police with their investigation.

He said Prinsloo was willing to testify against Raves.

Speaking to the media after Tuesday’s court proceedings, Smith said his client had entered into a plea with the State because he wanted to come clean after realising he had transgressed and wanted to take responsibility.

He said the 18-year sentence was fair as Prinsloo had faced a minimum of 25 years.

Cape Times