22 September 2017

South Africa: Thousands of Dockets Need to Be Traced in Massive Guns-to-Gangs Court Case

More than 2 800 dockets need to be traced in the mammoth gun smuggling case in which firearms meant to be destroyed by police were allegedly instead smuggled - with the help of cops - to others who handed them over to gangsters.

This, it emerged in the Western Cape High Court on Friday, was expected to take a significant amount of time.

Rondebosch businessman Irshaad "Hunter" Laher and Vereeniging arms dealer Alan Raves appeared in the dock.

They face various charges in the case which focuses on the selling of firearms, meant to have been destroyed by police, to gangsters around the Western Cape.

On Friday during brief proceedings, State advocate Shireen Riley said documents in the matter were outstanding.

She referred to a court order handed down in May. This order revealed that critical documents in the case had apparently been leaked to the defence.

The order instructed Laher's legal representative to give the State "all the particulars the State dispute were voluntarily disclosed to the defence".

This included the investigation diary of police dockets and "all records, files and documents in their possession that relate to the disclosure of the particulars of an informant/source".

The court order had also instructed the divisional commissioner of detective services to ensure that 3 028 police dockets, linked through the Integrated Ballistic Identification System to the stolen firearms, be collated and handed to the prosecution before July 31.

But on Friday, Riley said so far only 211 dockets had been received.

Outstanding dockets

That meant 2 817 dockets were outstanding.

"Many are archived and need to be traced," Riley said.

The matter was postponed to February 16, 2018.

Ex-police colonel Chris Prinsloo, now serving a jail sentence, previously said he had sold at least 2 000 firearms, meant to be destroyed by police, to Laher, who then allegedly sold these to gangsters.

Prinsloo, Laher and Raves were arrested as part of a previous national gun smuggling investigation, said to have been the biggest in SA, named Project Impi.

It had established that at least 261 children were murdered or wounded, between 2010 and 2016, with guns which were smuggled from within the police to gangsters.

1 200 firearms unaccounted for

About 1 200 of these guns are believed to still be in circulation on the streets.

Project Impi was launched in December 2013 by Western Cape police officers Major-General Jeremy Vearey and Major-General Peter Jacobs.

But they have said it disintegrated when they were suddenly transferred within the police in June 2016. National police are still pushing ahead with their transfers despite the Cape Town Labour Court ruling these should be set aside.

The Hawks are now heading the massive investigation into the illicit firearms trade in SA.

A total of 33 firearms recently went missing from the Bellville South and the Mitchells Plain police station in Cape Town.

Police Minister Fikile Mbalula earlier this month said these guns had likely been smuggled by police officers to gangsters.

These missing guns form part of the massive Hawks-headed probe.


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