Fake gun certificates found

2014-06-09 00:00

THE 21 people who were arrested for possessing fraudulent firearm competency certificates were caught out after police realised that their guns had the same serial number and the certificates were issued by the same company.

The private company that issued the certificates is also under investigation and more arrests are imminent.

Provincial police spokesperson Captain Thulani Zwane said the documents looked authentic except for the serial numbers.

The certificates are a requirement for firearm licence applications. According to Zwane, private companies provide training and assessment to individuals who are interested in owning firearms.

“Once the assessment — which includes physical and mental fitness — is done, the company then gives candidates certificates certifying that they are competent to own and handle firearms.

“The investigation into the suspects was prompted by the realisation that their competency certificates have the same serial numbers and that they were issued by the same private company,” said Zwane.

Investigators have registered 55 counts of fraud after it was found that firearm applicants were utilising fraudulent firearm competency certificates to apply for firearm licences.

Zwane said three firearms have since been seized from three of the suspects.

Marshall Security’s Tyron Powell said people’s lives are at risk if competency certificates are obtained fraudulently.

“These certificates are to ensure that whoever gets a firearm licence is capable of handling the weapon.

“When we employ people we verify the authenticity of their certificates with the police. Physical and mental fitness is key to gun owners. Community members are in danger if there are gun owners who have not been tested and evaluated,” said company spokesperson.

KZN violence monitor Mary de Haas said this was as a result of poor gun and security regulation. “The Private Security Industry Regulatory Authority (Psira) should ensure that criminal charges are instituted against the company responsible and that it is closed down,” she said.

The arrest and investigation into the matter was applauded by Transport and Community Safety MEC Willies Mchunu. He said irregularly obtained firearms were a key driver of criminal activity in the province.

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