Hawks blasted for be­ing soft on gun theft

Cape Times - - WORLD NEWS - Mary Jane Mphahlele

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.”

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