Military cops pounce on security firm
Johannesburg - Military police swooped on a security compound in Midrand on Monday, confiscating assault-rifle ammunition allegedly stolen from the army.
This comes in the wake of several exposés by The Star about alleged corrupt arms dealings by Dave Sheer Guns and two SAPS brigadiers.
On Sunday, Brigadier Mathapelo Miriam Mangwani, from the Central Firearms Registry, and the section head of firearms compliance, Brigadier Hlamane Elias Mahlabane, were suspended without pay for their alleged involvement in issuing gun licences to Dave Sheer Guns in exchange for bribes.
On Monday morning, investigators raided SBV Services - a cash-in-transit security company owned by the country’s four major banks - where live rounds and spent military bullet cartridges were found.
The bullets were allegedly stolen from the military and sold to Dave Sheer Guns, who then sold it on to SBV.
“They found quite a store of spent cartridges with the military stamp on and live rounds with the military stamp on,” said an investigator close to the case, who cannot be named.
“If you can get hold of empty cases you can make your own rounds. Quite often they recycle them,” the investigator said, adding that it was unclear how many bullets and cartridges had been found, but that they were 5.56mm - also known as .223 - rounds that can be used in R4 assault rifles.
This matches the description of the bullets in a witness’s affidavit given by a former Dave Sheer Guns employee who was apparently complicit in the alleged theft and subsequent selling of the bullets.
The affidavit stated that cash or company cheques were allegedly paid by Dave Sheer Guns employees, with amounts ranging from R20 000 to R250 000, to the supplier of the bullets.
The former employee said the delivery of bullets “took place on a regular basis” and that SBV’s first purchase allegedly included stolen military rounds, Kevlar vests and steel plates for bullet-proof jackets.
Outside the SBV compound on James Crescent in Midrand, three military police vehicles arrived at about 9am on Monday. Seven military officers were on the scene and are believed to have acted on intelligence that the ammunition might be moved.
For more than an hour they had to wait outside for “the big boss” of SBV to arrive, a military police investigator at the scene said.
Eventually, a group of five middle-aged men arrived, briefly spoke to the military police and then disappeared behind the palisade security fence covered in black netting.
One of the men - believed to be connected to SBV - tried to stop The Star from taking photographs.
“This is a secure compound,” he said, but walked away after being told that photos would continue to be taken as it was a public road.
“You think you’re funny? I don’t appreciate your attitude,” he said as he walked off.
After another 40 minutes, the military police were finally let in, and throughout the day, several armoured cash-in-transit vehicles came and went through the security gate.
When the military police left the premises to go to apparently investigate SBV’s other depot in Pretoria, the SAPS arrived and said they had been asked by SBV’s security to stop photos from being taken.
An employee from a company across the road wondered why so many vehicles were allowed to park outside SBV’s premises.
“They’re (SBV) intimidating, those guys, if you stop there for two seconds they normally chase you away,” she said.
SBV’s website reads: “We have since evolved into an independent commercial company and are now equally owned by the four major banks in South Africa.”
FOR THE RECORD: This story has been edited to remove any reference to Mike Shipton. The story previously referred to Shipton as the general manager of SBV Services. This is incorrect. Shipton previously worked for the company but no longer has any involvement with the business. We apologise to Shipton for the error and for the inconvenience it might have caused.