No charges for Petros in gun case
A FORMER top cop who headed police in Gauteng when one of his officers stole thousands of police-seized firearms will not face action for failing to notice the crimes carried out under his nose.
Some Cape Town police officers, however, say former Gauteng police commissioner Mzwandile Petros failed in his duties and should be held accountable.
But this week acting national police commissioner Lieutenant-General Khomotso Phahlane’s spokeswoman, Brigadier Mashadi Selepe, said it was common knowledge Petros had in fact “excelled in the execution of his mandate”.
“The department values the contribution and the role played by retired Lieutenant General Petros during his tenure as a provincial commissioner in both the Western Cape and Gauteng,” she said. “The department thus condemns any attempts and suggestions that retired Lieutenant General Petros is implicated in this matter.”
Petros this week declined to comment on the matter, referring queries to Phahlane’s office.
Phahlane’s stance suggests a rift between national police management and some police officers in the Western Cape. It may also provide clues as to why Major-General Jeremy Vearey, who investigated the gun-running case, was effectively demoted in June. Police sources claim Vearey was sidelined to derail the probe and prevent the arrest of more police officers.
At the centre of the gun-running saga is Christiaan Prinsloo, who was sentenced to an effective 18 years in jail after he pleaded guilty last month.
Prinsloo, a former police colonel in Vereeniging, stole about 2 400 firearms from police stores. About 2 000 of these guns were sold to gangsters in Cape Town. Court documents indicate he stole firearms that were to have been destroyed from at least 2010 until the end of 2014, a period which spans Petros’s term at the helm of the province’s police.
A police source said Gauteng had fallen short of the strict measures used to check on such firearms in the Western Cape, which included filming firearms meant for destruction, in order to prove exactly where the weapons had been at a specific time.
Weekend Argus has sought to interview Vearey about the case, but for more than two weeks failed to get the requisite permission from national police management.
Last month businessman Irshaad Laher was arrested for allegedly buying stolen firearms from Prinsloo, then channelling them to gangsters.
He is expected back in the Bellville Magistrate’s Court in October.
Gauteng arms dealer Alan Raves, also an accused in the matter, is expected to appear in the Western Cape High Court in November.