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Firearms: SAPS accused of ‘giving guns to gangs while disarming the citizens’




The Democratic Alliance (DA) have continued to condemn the proposed Firearms Control Amendment Bill, saying that while Police Minister Bheki Cele remains hell-bent on allowing the controversial legislature to be passed, he remains complicit in alleged corruption within the SAPS that facilitates the funnelling of guns to gangsters.

The DA’s Shadow Minister for Police, Andrew Whitfield, said in a statement on Monday that investigations conducted under the “Project Impi” probe have “revealed the extent of rot amongst SAPS officials selling guns to criminals”. He said that by disarming ordinary citizens while “illicitly selling firearms to crooks”, SAPS is standing by as crime runs amok on South Africa.

Whitfield said that instead of enabling its officers to combat corruption, fight crimes and protect South Africa’s citizens, Cele is “trying to remove people’s last line of defence against increasingly violent crimes through its Draconian Firearms Control Amendment Bill which seeks to remove self-dense as a reason to own a gun in South Africa”.

He said that weapons revealed to have been handed over to known criminals through the Project Impi investigation are the same ones that are then used in all manner of criminal activity, including gang violence and cash-in-transit-robberies.

“This means that South Africans are hobbled on two fronts when it comes to eradicating violent crimes on the one hand, SAPS is rife with corruption and ineptitude and there seems to be little political will to truly address this; and on the other hand, law-abiding citizens’ last line of true defence against violent criminals are being taken away,” said Whitfield.

Whitfield said that Project Impi’s successes include the arrest of former police colonel Chris Prinsloo, who “testified to distributing at least 2 000 firearms that were meant to be destroyed and funnelling them to a reservist, Irshaad Laher, who smuggled them to the Western Cape”.

He also cited the arrest of alleged 28s gang boss Ralph Stanfield and members of his family, as well as and three Central Firearms Registry police officers, in 2014.

Whitfield said that despite these notable efforts, the task force has since collapsed, with recently dismissed Western Cape detective head Jeremy Vearey saying in an affidavit that “Operation Impi has been decimated on the orders of SAPS management.”

“These examples clearly illustrate SAPS unwillingness to truly eradicate the corruption within its own ranks. Minister Cele and SAPS leadership would rather sacrifice ordinary, law-abiding South Africans,” said Whitfield.

“The nearly 69 000 signatures on the DA’s petition opposing the Firearms Control Amendment Bill shows South Africans are not willing to forfeit their last line of defence, and neither are we. The DA will continue to use all available means to oppose this Bill and to also hold the Minister and SAPS to account.”

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