Cop-turned-robber arrested, smuggled police rifle found under mattress

2017-09-28 12:33
Confiscated guns. (Supplied)

Confiscated guns. (Supplied)

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Cape Town – A robbery at a shop in Delft – an area about 25km from the Cape Town city centre – has led to police uncovering that a constable was allegedly involved in the crime and was keeping an official R5 rifle hidden under a mattress at a friend's home.

The rifle, as well as 20 rounds of ammunition, was retrieved.

Firearms smuggled out of police stations to then be used in crimes is a massive problem in Cape Town – it forms the subject of a mammoth court case set to proceed in the Western Cape High Court in 2018.

Recently, a total of 33 firearms went missing from the Bellville South and Mitchells Plain police stations.

Police Minister Fikile Mbalula previously said those firearms were stolen by police officers and were now in the hands of gangsters.

An audit of firearms at all Western Cape police stations is set to be conducted.

READ: EXCLUSIVE: 'Plan' implemented to crack down on cops smuggling guns to criminals

The 24-year-old constable, arrested after the robbery on Wednesday, is stationed at the Gugulethu police station and is also a member of the stabilisation unit for the Nyanga area.

Along with two other suspects, he is expected in the Bellville Magistrate's Court on Friday.

Police spokesperson Captain Frederick van Wyk said officers received a complaint about a business being robbed in a section of an area along the N2 at around 10:00 on Wednesday.

A police radio controller described the vehicle involved in the robbery as a blue VW Golf. The registration number was also supplied.

Van Wyk said members of the police's Delft crime prevention unit spotted a car matching this description in the Leiden area in Delft.

"They immediately gave chase and managed to corner the vehicle with its two occupants," he said.

Pistols, cigarettes and hidden rifle seized

"The two occupants were taken out of the vehicle and searched, whereupon two 9mm pistols with two magazines and 30 rounds were found in their possession. It was then discovered that the one passenger was a police constable."

Van Wyk said aside from the firearms, police recovered two cartons of cigarettes.

"When questioned, the police constable confirmed that he went to book out the firearms with his 18-year-old civilian friend (driver of the vehicle) at Nyanga [police station]," he said.

"He later informed the [police] members that he also booked out an R5 rifle and asked another of his civilian friends to keep it for him."

R5 assault rifle (SAP Special Task Force website)

Police officers followed up on this information and recovered the rifle, with 20 rounds of ammunition and a magazine, hidden between the base of a bed and a mattress.

"They then arrested the friend who had kept the rifle, for unlawful possession of a firearm," Van Wyk said.

"The arrest of a police member for the commission of a crime sends shockwaves through the rank and file of the SAPS, but it also indicates that criminals will never find a safe haven in the SAPS."

Gun smuggling probe

A now controversial gun-smuggling investigation, Project Impi, the biggest of its kind in South Africa, in 2013 uncovered how firearms meant to be destroyed by police officers were instead smuggled, allegedly to gangsters around the Western Cape.

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

This includes looking into firearms that have gone missing from police stations.

Anyone with information of illegally obtained police firearms should contact the Hawks on 082 479 626, 082 460 1200 or 021 9183 502.

Read more on:    saps  |  cape town  |  crime  |  robberies  |  guns

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