No charges for Petros in gun case

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

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.

Mzwandile Petros

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