Mys­tery sur­rounds spate of firearms-linked ar­rests

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

A SPATE of gun-re­lated ar­rests linked to the Gaut­eng city of Vereenig­ing has left ex­perts baf­fled about why the area has emerged as cen­tral in firearms cases.

This week crime and firearm ex­perts told Week­end Ar­gus they were mostly stumped about Vereenig­ing be­ing a com­mon fac­tor in gun ar­rests.

In a re­cent in­ci­dent, a 48-year-old AWB leader and a mem­ber were ar­rested in Van­der­bilj­park, and un­li­censed pis­tols, ri­fles and more than 2 136 rounds of am­mu­ni­tion of dif­fer­ent cal­i­bres con­fis­cated.

Ac­cord­ing to na­tional Hawks spokesman Hang­wani Mu­laudzi, the AWB leader claimed “he bought the firearms from a cer­tain house in Vereenig­ing”.

The city is also linked to a ma­jor firearms case play­ing out in Cape Town.

Chris­ti­aan Prinsloo, a for­mer police colonel and a cen­tral fig­ure in the case, used to be based in Vereenig­ing.

The in­ves­ti­ga­tion of this case led to the ar­rest of arms dealer Alan Raves in Vereenig­ing in Au­gust last year, and last month busi­ness­man and avid hunter Ir­shaad La­her was ar­rested at his Ron­de­bosch home.

Ac­cord­ing to an af­fi­davit by La­her, he was em­ployed at a mo­tor com­pany in Vereenig­ing for five years be­fore mov­ing to Cape Town in 2001.

Raves and La­her ap­peared to­gether in the Bel­lville Mag­is­trate’s Court yes­ter­day.

In­sti­tute of Se­cu­rity Stud­ies se­nior re­searcher Jo­han Burger said the ar­rests in Vereenig­ing were per­plex­ing, but sug­gested they could all link to Prinsloo.

“It is the area where Prinsloo was work­ing in, so it could be that,” Burger said. “It could be that the sur­round­ing areas ben­e­fited from his crim­i­nal ac­tions.”

He said rad­i­cal or­gan­i­sa­tions were likely have found out where firearms were eas­ily accessible.

“They then ex­ploited this.”

This could mean more firearms he stolen re­mained in the area.

caryn.dol­ley@inl.co.za would’ve

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