Cape Town - Close to to 700 police firearms have been stolen or lost nationally and a good percentage of these have vanished in the Western Cape and are in the hands of gangsters, possibly leading to the tragic death of 12-year-old Firdous Kleinsmidt.
Top policing structures and crime fighters are calling for the mastermind and foot soldiers linked to the syndicates behind the stolen weapons to be found.
Firdous, who was in Grade 7 at Ieglaasi Nieyah Primary School, was shot while waiting for her scholar transport on January 30.
Police and top structures in the provincial government have yet to confirm whether the weapon used in Firdous' murder can be linked to the 15 firearms and eight imitation guns which went missing at Mitchells Plain police station in November 2023.
They are also calling for a full police lifestyle audit.
It is for this reason that mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis, Western Cape Minister of Mobility Ricardo Mackenzie, DA Regional Metro chairperson and Cape Town Mayoral Committee Member for Safety & Security JP Smith, and MEC for Police Oversight and Community Safety Reagen Allen, handed over a memorandum to, Major-General Vincent Beaton, district commander at Mitchells Plain police.
The station is in the top 30 police stations with the highest murder rate in the country.
The memorandum called for a full investigation into Mitchells Plain police station, an inquiry into the Community Police Forum, and the immediate suspension of personnel allegedly involved in the theft of the firearms and the administration of the police station.
While the protest went on, constable Lubabalo Malongwe, who was arrested and charged in connection with the stolen firearms, appeared at the Mitchell's Plain Magistrate's Court where the matter was postponed to March 5.
Outside the police station, leader of the National Coloured Congress, Fadiel Adams, called over a loud speaker for Smith to leave the building and said in Afrikaans: “Julle base is by die agter deur uit en hulle los hulle honde hier voor”.
(Your bosses are out the back door and they are leaving their dogs in front, referring to police officers.)
Smith responded to the protest outside by stating that it was creating unnecessary conflict: “I have to apologise for the behaviour outside, now is not the time for division.”
Moments after the handover, Lorenzo Brown, charged with the murder of Firdous and and an attempted murder charge also made an appearance in court, as Mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis, and Adams of the National Coloured Congress sat in the public gallery.
The State revealed Brown was a member of a gang and had a previous charges of murder which had been withdrawn against him in 2022 due to an incomplete investigation which had now been finalised, leaving a new placement on the court roll.
They said a key witness had placed Brown at the scene on January 30, claiming to have shot Firdous.
In 2017, 33 firearms disappeared from the Mitchells Plain and Bellville South police stations with a number of staff at the stations suspended during an investigation following an audit.
Smith revealed the mastermind and foot soldiers of the illegal gun trade and that of those being stolen out of police’s clutches was yet to be found, and that close to 680 firearms were missing nationally.
With @geordinhl hading over memorandum to @SAPoliceService— Ricardo Mackenzie MPL🇿🇦 (@ricardomackenzi) February 2, 2024
When guns go missing from @SAPoliceService it destroys faith people have in policing!
We need an urgent investigation & full disclosure on the missing guns including a forensic report into usage of these guns! pic.twitter.com/azKXmeJQXW
Jasmine Harris, Mitchell’s Plain Community Policing Forum added they were currently in meetings with management while looking for answers on how the firearms disappeared.
Lynn Philips of the Cape Flats Safety Development Forum, who also handed a petition and memorandum to police last week said they were calling for transparency.
“We are calling for a full lifestyle audit of police officers and for there to be transparency of the registers of a SAP 13 and booking out of firearms, we understand that only seven firearms was recovered since 2017,” she said.