Hawks blasted for being soft on gun theft
PARLIAMENT’S portfolio committee on police has blasted the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (the Hawks) for dragging their feet over the investigation into guns missing from two police stations in the Western Cape.
The Hawks were updating Parliament on the progress of investigations into the firearms stolen at Bellville South and Mitchells Plain police stations, when it told the committee that only three out of 33 firearms were recovered.
ANC MP Angie Molebatsi said the slow pace at which the investigations were being carried out was a major concern considering the number of pistols still to be recovered.
“The pace at which this is going is very worrisome; we are counting months that this occurred, we are talking about 33 firearms here, but only three have been recovered,” said Molebatsi.
In August 2017, 15 handguns were reported missing from the Mitchells Plain police station and a further 18 exhibit firearms were reported missing from Bellville police station.
One suspect was arrested in Manenberg for possession of an illegal firearm connected to the Mitchells Plain stolen firearms.
A man was also arrested in Manenberg with a firearm linked to the Mitchells Plain case, while in Belhar one pistol linked to the Bellville firearms was recovered.
Acting Hawks head Yolisa Matakata told the committee that a number of personnel within the identified police stations had been suspended and were being investigated.
The Hawks are also investigating possible gun smuggling in the province and several aspects of the country’s illicit firearms trade, including the import and export of illegal guns and how these are being used in underworld violence.
EFF MP Phillip Mhlongo said the Hawks were not doing enough to ensure that the guns are recovered. “From the firearms that have been recovered it is not some sort of co-operation; it is just a coincidence, meaning that the real operation to recover all these weapons has not borne any fruit. What worries me is that already those weapons are in the hands of gangsters,” said Mhlongo.
He said police officials were involved in the crime, and called for officers who are found to be involved to be dealt with in a “brutal manner”.
“These people are a threat to other human beings; they must be dealt with brutally, we cannot allow (the Hawks) to just tell us that an investigation is under way while lives of innocent people are in danger.”