Even more seized guns on the streets
Syndicate sells firearms stolen from police stores to gangsters
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.”