Johannesburg - The Central Firearms Registry (CFR) head in Pretoria has been accused of accepting bribes from an employee at a Joburg gun shop in exchange for securing gun licences.
This is according to a state witness in an upcoming case, who claimed that as an employee of Dave Sheer Guns – a leading distributor of firearms and accessories on the continent – she paid Brigadier Mathapelo Miriam Mangwani R5 000 and R10 000 twice a month in cash for four years.
The payments were made allegedly to, among other things, fast-track the issuing of licences for clients of the gun shop.
The Hawks, along with forensic consultant Paul O’Sullivan, are investigating the allegations levelled against the gun dealer and the brigadier.
The investigation follows the statements of a previous employee at the gun company, who said that on the instructions of her employer, she had bribed many police officers, including an officer nicknamed “Mama”, who she identified as Mangwani.
Susie, whose real name is known to The Star but is being withheld to protect her identity, named 18 police officers at the firearms registry who she said were on Dave Sheer’s payroll, and that she personally paid bribes to some of them.
According to Susie’s affidavit, which The Star has seen, Mangwani allegedly gave Dave Sheer Guns information they needed on licences.
Susie alleges she saw the brigadier so many times over four years that they became familiar with each other to the degree they would hug when greeting.
“She would then bad-mouth Brigadier Bothma (Brigadier Jaco Bothma, previous Central Firearms Registry head) and would say that she is the boss now.
“Mangwani would also tell me to relay information to De Nysschen (Gareth de Nysschen is a director at Dave Sheer Guns), where he should be careful in his illicit dealings,” Susie said.
On another occasion, Susie said she met Mangwani at a shopping centre diagonally opposite the McDonald’s in Woodmead.
“She was clever never to park near cameras. When I arrived, she climbed into my car and we drove to the back of the shopping centre where the dustbins were,” Susie said.
“We spoke about her new car, an Audi, and some of the people in CFR. Mangwani had a lot of power inside the CFR; she sat on a panel that approved applications and she would make sure that the majority of Dave Sheer applications were approved.”
The employee said it was a joke at the shop that the bribes were helping police members’ children at the CFR to a better education.
Gun owners are required to be in possession of a licence, but the application process is quite cumbersome, with potential gun owners waiting months and, in some cases, years for licences.
The allegations are in stark contrast to Mangwani’s public image. Last year, Mangwani told The Star’s sister paper, the Pretoria News, that she would investigate all allegations of corruption levelled against her office.
“I want to turn things around. The corrupter and the (corrupted) should face the consequences,” Mangwani was quoted as saying.
“I want people to come forward to say what their problems are.”
But, contacted for comment regarding the allegations against her, Mangwani ignored e-mails, phone calls and SMSes from The Star.
An attorney initially contacted the paper to say he would be representing the brigadier, but later informed the paper he had decided to pull away from the case because it involved a police investigation.
The Hawks would not comment.
Update: Comments on this article have been closed to protect the identitiy of the witness.