Sixteen people, including senior-ranking police officers and alleged underworld kingpins have been arrested on charges of fraud and corruption relating to contraventions within the Central Firearm Registry.
It is alleged that the officers were involved in signing off of gun licences without proper verification or correct protocols being followed.
The arrests come after a three-year-long investigation, according to national police spokesperson, Brigadier Vish Naidoo.
Naidoo said the National Anti-Gang Unit in the Western Cape, under the leadership of Major General Andre Lincoln, had been investigating amongst others, charges relating to fraud, defeating the administration of justice and contravention of the Firearms Control Act (Act 60/2000) on multiple case dockets in Edenvale, Kempton Park and Norwood in the province of Gauteng.
He said during November 2017, police received information on alleged fraud and corruption relating to firearm licence applications taking place between Cape Town and Gauteng.
“In January 2018, it was found that several people including Cape Town underworld figures and their family and friends allegedly obtained their competency certificate/s and firearm licence/s to possess a firearm as well as temporary authorisation to possess a firearm/s in an allegedly wrongful manner,” he said.
Naidoo said investigations revealed that applicants made these applications in the Gauteng province, more so in the SAPS Edenvale, Norwood and Kempton Park area.
“The investigations were centered around these police stations even though the possibility of other stations being involved cannot be ruled out. These investigations initially began when a few persons of interest appeared to possess firearms ‘legally’. The investigations started to reveal, among others that residential addresses were falsified and/or misrepresented on the applications, information regarding the status of applicants were not revealed and mandatory checks by police Designated Firearm Officers (DFO’s) were not conducted,” Naidoo said.
He said the application forms were also found not to be signed by the applicants but the motivations supplied by the applicants as well as the testimonials given by character witnesses were also not signed.
“The same applications were then recommended by the DFOs and were forwarded to members of the Provincial FLASH and eventually Central Firearm Registry where they would be approved,” he said.
Following the almost three-year-long investigation J50 Warrants for the arrest were issued for at least 21 suspects.
Naidoo said earlier this month, General Lincoln’s team together with the Gauteng Provincial Investigation Unit (PIU) embarked on an operation and began arresting the persons of interest.
“At least five other suspects, including a senior officer of the South African Police Service are yet to be arrested. These accused, together with the five outstanding suspects – if arrested, will be appearing again in the South Gauteng High Court,” Naidoo said.
The National Commissioner of Police, General Khehla John Sitole has applauded the perseverance of the team in this investigation.
“We are systematically identifying and routing out corruption and corrupt members from the SAPS”, said General Sitole.
It may be the hope and desire of many that criminality within the SAPS should be more speedily eradicated. These investigation processes, in order for them to be executed effectively, takes time.
“The most effective way of dealing with corruption is to prevent it and in order to do this, I am urging both members of the SAPS as well as the community at large to refrain from engaging in such activities – because you WILL be caught”, added General Sitole.
“We appeal to anyone who may have any information on crime to contact the SAPS on the Crime Stop number 086 00 10111. Information can also be communicated via the MySAPSApp, an App which can be easily downloaded via Play Store on any iPhone or Android handset. All information will be treated with strictest confidence and informers may remain anonymous,” Naidoo said.