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Two more firearms stolen from police stations found, activists call for arrests

Firearms which were stolen from police stations six years ago are being found. File image

Firearms which were stolen from police stations six years ago are being found. File image

Published Sep 30, 2023

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Cape Town - Two more firearms which were stolen from two Cape Town police stations six years ago have been retrieved, the Hawks confirmed this week.

The Cape Flats Safety Development Forum has called for the police officers who were involved in the theft and sale of the firearms to be arrested and charged.

In 2017, 33 firearms disappeared from the Mitchells Plain and Bellville South police stations.

Fifteen firearms were stolen from the Mitchells Plain police station and 18 from Bellville South.

A number of staff at the stations were suspended during an investigation following an audit.

By 2019, the Hawks confirmed that of the 33 firearms stolen, 12 were recovered.

This week, they said two more had been recovered, making the total 14. They have yet to elaborate on where and when they were discovered.

Hawks spokesperson Brigadier Thandi Mbambo said: “Yes, so far 14 firearms have been recovered and the investigation still continues.”

She said she would at a later stage reveal where and when they were found and it is unclear whether a ballistic report will be made public.

National Police’s Brigadier Athlenda Mathe was also approached but did not respond to queries.

Earlier this year, Police Minister Bheki Cele said that more than 5 000 firearms had been stolen from the police in the past five years.

Cele said that 23 people were found guilty and 42 were on trial for crimes related to these firearms, and that 48 guns stolen from the SAPS were being used in crimes.

Lynn Phillips of the Cape Flats Safety Development Forum said they were calling for those responsible for the sale of the missing firearms to be brought to book.

“I acknowledge the retrieval of firearms from the Hawks, but for me six years down the line is a very long time,” she said.

“We would have wanted all firearms stolen by SAPS and sold on the Cape Flats.

“I also want to know what are the ballistic outcomes of those firearms, how many of these firearms are the Mitchells Plain firearms and Bellville South firearms.

“As an organisation, we ask how many people were injured with these firearms?

“When was it retrieved, as it would give us an indication where it was used as these were not locked up inside a closet, that is our view as an organisation.”

Former police officer Christiaan Prinsloo, who sold the thousands of firearms meant for destruction, was sentenced to 18 years’ imprisonment and was granted parole in 2020 .

David Charles Naidoo, another police officer, was also convicted for his role.

In March, Gun Free SA gave notice to Cele for a class action where they were seeking damages due to deaths and injuries caused by Prinsloo and Naidoo.

Claire Taylor, researcher for Gun Free SA, added that the sale to gang members had to end.

“South Africa is facing a gun violence epidemic, with 31 people shot and killed every day in this country,” she said.

“We need to urgently strengthen controls over legal firearms and ammunition to stop these guns leaking into criminal hands.

“Key actions to do this include ensuring that SA has a fully-functioning Central Firearms Registry which keeps accurate records on all (civilian and state-owned) firearms, ammunition and owners as well as strengthening the Firearms Control Act to close loopholes and improve oversight over the entire firearms control management system to combat fraud and corruption, and enhance accountability.

“Those responsible for leaking guns into criminal hands must be held accountable.”

A police-issued firearm could easily be bought by a gang boss for as little as R6 000 and resold for R15 000.

This is according to the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organised Crime, which said that in just over two decades, nearly 27 000 police-issued firearms had either been stolen or lost, or landed in the hands of gang bosses who would resell them for double the price.

Weekend Argus