Five police officers suspended and face internal hearing for 15 missing firearms

The saga of missing firearms at Mitchells Plain police station continues. File image

The saga of missing firearms at Mitchells Plain police station continues. File image

Published Mar 23, 2024


Cape Town - Five months after 15 firearms meant for ballistic testing and eight imitation guns disappeared from the Mitchells Plain police station, five police officers have been suspended and are undergoing an internal investigation, while the station commander, Brigadier Jan Alexander, has been transferred to another police station.

In the wake of his transfer to Bellville police station this month, the Cape Flats Safety Forum have asked why Alexander has not faced suspension like his counterparts.

Provincial police spokesperson Colonel Andre Traut would not confirm or deny the fact that five officers were under suspension and facing an internal probe.

When asked about the officers’ suspension he said: “In response, kindly be advised that the departmental investigation you are referring to is still under way, and the details thereof are of an internal nature and not discussed on an open platform.”

The Weekend Argus has learnt on good authority that of the five police officers, one is a woman, and their social media accounts will now form part of the internal investigation.

Meanwhile, Bellville Community Police Forum’s Emre Uygun confirmed Alexander’s transfer to the station.

“Brigadier Alexander brings with him a wealth of experience from his time at Mitchells Plain, where he specialised in tackling gang violence and other issues prevalent on the Cape Flats.

“His expertise and dedication make him one of Cape Town’s top cops and I am confident that his leadership will greatly benefit the Bellville community.”

The appointment has also been met with a frown by the Cape Flats Safety Forum (CFSF), who asked why he had not faced suspension as his colleagues had.

Lynn Phillips of the CFSF said procedures had to be followed when any form of evidence was signed and removed from the SAPS 13 room, but that protocol had not been followed.

“The fact is the person in the SAPS 13, if he followed the process that there was a request from the detective with the docket to give the exhibits for ballistics, it would get handed over to ballistics and in this case it never reached ballistics,” she said.

“The station commander has been transferred to Bellville. The message which was sent said he came with a wealth of experience in gang violence in Mitchells Plain. Now the question is when did he execute that strategy?

“Why did 15 firearms disappear during his watch? He could not deal with the gang violence in Mitchells Plain and our biggest question is, why was he not suspended?”

Phillips further challenged the investigation process and theft of the firearms, stating that without the guns, which were part of evidence, vital court cases were at risk and the safety of the community.

Since the firearms vanished in November last year, Detective-Constable Lubabalo Malongwe has been making court appearances for charges relating to the disappearance of the guns.

Richard Mamabolo of the Police and Prison Civil Rights Union said they hoped those responsible would be held accountable.

“The station manager or branch commander has a duty to inspect each and every member reporting on or off duty to ensure their firearms are in their possession and also record any used ammunition,” he said.

“If there is an unaccounted for firearm or ammunition, an inquiry must immediately commence and corrective measures must be applied against any perpetrator.

“Inquiries also include opening a criminal case to determine whether the person in question was negligent or not. We are hopeful that the SAPS will hold those who have been found in the wrong accountable.”

Adele Kirsten, director of Gun Free South Africa (GFSA), also called for accountability and oversight.

“We know that this is one of the most vulnerable points in the life cycle of a gun, when it is most at risk of being diverted back into the illicit market,” she said.

“GFSA welcomes the suspension of the five police officers, including the internal hearings.

“We would urge SAPS management to apply the appropriate sanction on these officers.

“Stealing a gun is not like stealing a laptop – stealing a gun, a lethal weapon, and pushing it into the hands of criminals, causes death and destruction, chaos and loss. The consequences of their action, of their crime, are enormous.”

In 2017, 14 firearms vanished from the same police station and the then station commander, Brigadier Cass Goolam, along with other management figures, were suspended.

He was later vindicated and earlier told the Weekend Argus that he had nothing to do with the missing firearms now or then.