Even more seized guns on the streets

Syn­di­cate sells firearms stolen from po­lice stores to gang­sters

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - NEWS - CARYN DOLLEY

WHEN 28s gang­ster Gre­gory Isaacs died on Bel­har Street three years ago af­ter be­ing struck in the face by no fewer than nine bul­lets, the at­tack was dis­missed as just an­other killing in a gang hot spot.

Fif­teen months ear­lier, in an ap­par­ently un­re­lated in­ci­dent, six-year-old Leana van Wyk was left brain-dam­aged when she was hit in the head by a stray bul­let in an­other gang hot spot, Hanover Park.

Isaacs was a gang­ster, and Leana just a lit­tle girl in the wrong place at the wrong time on Septem­ber 15, 2012.

Not so, ac­cord­ing to an ex­posé of a mas­sive gun smug­gling syn­di­cate, which has its roots in the po­lice and is so com­pli­cated it is tak­ing time to fully un­fold.

It shows, how­ever, the small pieces of metal and lead that pen­e­trated the heads of the two vic­tims came from firearms which should have been de­stroyed by po­lice.

The guns were among more than 2 000 firearms which were in­stead stolen from po­lice store­rooms, then ex­pertly tam­pered with to oblit­er­ate bal­lis­tic his­to­ries – then al­legedly sold on to gang­sters.

This week it emerged, from a source with close knowl­edge of the probe, even more of th­ese guns are on the street.

As ar­rests were made and firearms seized, the source said the ex­act ex­tent of the syn­di­cate would be­come clearer.

But the in­ves­ti­ga­tion hasn’t been stan­dard.

“( The in­ves­ti­ga­tors) at­tacked the sup­ply lines. They looked at where the firearms came from,” the source said.

Then they worked back­wards, re­vers­ing the path of the bul­lets, back to the firearms used in the shoot­ings. In Leana’s case, a 9mm pis­tol and a .357 Mag­num were seized.

From there in­ves­ti­ga­tors went fur­ther back, prob­ing whose hands had come in con­tact with the guns.

And it was this process which showed the guns had come from within their own ranks.

Two weeks ago, for­mer po­lice colonel Chris­ti­aan Prinsloo, of Vereenig­ing, en­tered into an agree­ment with the State, pleading guilty to his role in the syn­di­cate.

Prinsloo had been tasked with the de­struc­tion of th­ese guns, but in­stead he stole the weapons from a store in Sil­ver­ton and an­other in Ger­mis­ton. He was sen­tenced to an ef­fec­tive 18 years in jail af­ter pleading guilty to 11 charges, in­clud­ing rack­e­teer­ing and cor­rup­tion.

He had been charged pre­vi­ously charged with three mur­ders and 12 at­tempted mur­ders, af­ter al­legedly sup­ply­ing the guns used in the killings. Two of th­ese cases in­volved the mur­der of Isaacs and the shoot­ing of Leana, but th­ese charges fell away in the plea agree­ment.

The source de­scribed this week how th­ese two seem­ingly un­re­lated in­ci­dents had helped po­lice trace the ori­gin of the firearms.

About two weeks ago busi­ness­man and avid hunter Ir­shaad La­her was ar­rested in his Ron­de­bosch home. He al­legedly bought 2 000 ri­fles and pis­tols des­tined for de­struc­tion from Prinsloo. Af­ter ap­pear­ing in the Bel­lville Mag­is­trate’s Court last week, La­her was re­leased on R100 000 bail. When he re­turns to the dock he is ex­pected to ap­pear with Allan Raves, 50, a firearms dealer from Gaut­eng who was ar­rested in Au­gust for his al­leged role in the case.

The source told Week­end Ar­gus more ar­rests were ex­pected.

This week Hanover Park com­mu­nity po­lice fo­rum spokesman Wel­don Cameron re­called Leana’s shoot­ing.He said gang vi­o­lence con­tin­ued to rock the area, and it was feared guns stolen by Prinsloo were still in cir­cu­la­tion in the area.

“To­day (Thursday) we have two con­firmed mur­ders in Hanover Park and four at­tempted mur­ders,” Cameron said. “Those guns still have an im­pact.”

caryn.dolley@inl.co.za

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