Stolen guns fuel hits

2017-11-03 13:45
A joint operation by SAPS units from Pietermaritzburg, Greytown and Kranskop as well as the SANDF Air Force netted 12 unlicensed firearms in the Greytown and Kranskop area last week. Members here are getting ready to be dropped at a remote location during one of the raids.

A joint operation by SAPS units from Pietermaritzburg, Greytown and Kranskop as well as the SANDF Air Force netted 12 unlicensed firearms in the Greytown and Kranskop area last week. Members here are getting ready to be dropped at a remote location during one of the raids. (Greytown Gazette )

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Stolen police firearms are allegedly being used to carry out gang hits, political killings and taxi violence in KwaZulu-Natal.

According to News24 sources, KZN was a key market for stolen police firearms — some of which were stolen years ago and are still in circulation.

The province is even said to be supplying guns for gang warfare as far as Cape Town, so high is the rate of stolen police firearms in the province.

News24 has reliably learnt that two high-profile alleged gangsters from Durban and Cape Town work together.

This week, the chairperson of the Klip­river Taxi Association and four other people were gunned down while travelling in their vehicle in an alleged taxi hit in Matiwaneskop.

Their vehicle then crashed into a minibus taxi, killing five passengers.

Two more people died later in hospital.

KZN Violence Monitor Mary de Haas said stolen police firearms being used in taxi killings was “very likely”.

“Guns being stolen from police stations is not new — it has been happening for years.”

De Haas said she knew of an old case in Bulwer where the firearm of an officer who had been dead for years was peculiarly found on someone during a roadblock.

She said stolen police firearms were even used in the notorious Glebelands hostel to carry out killings.

“It is perfectly possible that there is a market. Hitmen, especially taxi hitmen, are a law unto themselves. Hitmen incidents are out of control.”

Regarding KZN allegedly supplying Cape Town with stolen firearms, she said: “There is a huge number of guns in the province, and long distance taxi routes would be perfect for moving weapons around.”

The high level of politically motivated killings was also identified as a problem in KZN, and the Moerane Commission has this year been investigating political killings in the province since 2011.

In September, the ANC in KZN said a “sponsored” third force could be behind those murders.

It emerged this week that more than 2 000 firearms were stolen from police in the last four years, according to a reply to a Democratic Alliance parliamentary question.

In that period, 519 firearms were stolen in KZN — the highest rate of all the provinces.

DA MP Dianne Kohler Barnard said the number of firearms stolen from police was the result of “institutional failure”.

She said the DA would carry out oversight visits to police armouries and would insist that Police Minister Fikile Mbalula order a national audit of all police firearms.

Mbalula’s spokesperson Vuyo Mhaga was not available for comment on Thursday.

Meanwhile, sources said Cape Town, which was previously viewed as a “side market” for stolen police guns, has seen demand increase as gang violence surged. In October, Mbalula announced he had asked the army to help police clamp down on the gang violence.

It is not yet clear if President Jacob Zuma will authorise this.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg

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