The confiscation of several firearms by police in gang hot spots around Cape Town over eight weeks is providing some insight into the illicit gun trade, and just how entrenched the problem of illegal weapons is…
Firearms – including hunting rifles, special revolvers and pistols – have been traced to various locations, including stables and a field where one of the weapons was found buried.
Guns have also been found stashed in vehicles or carried on suspects.
The youngest suspect recently arrested for the alleged illegal possession of a firearm is a 14-year-old boy, who police say is in primary school.
He was detained earlier this month following a murder in Delft, an area which has been plagued by gang violence.
A police officer was also taken into custody in another matter.
The illegal firearms trade is a massive problem in the Western Cape. Gang violence is also a major issue and, on October 10, Police Minister Fikile Mbalula announced he had asked the army to help police fight violent crime in the province.
A mammoth investigation into illicit guns is being conducted by the Hawks.
About three months ago, a total of 33 firearms went missing from two police stations in Cape Town. Subsequently it was announced that firearms audits would be carried out at all the province’s police stations.
In one of the latest firearm confiscations, a .303 hunting rifle was found buried in a field in Mitchells Plain.
Buried hunting rifle and heroin
On Tuesday, police spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Andre Traut said that officers had noticed two men in Hengelaar Street on Monday night and, when they were searched, an unlicenced 7.65 firearm and five rounds of ammunition were found on one of them.
“While the members were making their way out to their vehicle with the arrested suspects, the community and other 28 gang members started attacking the members with stones,”
The second man, Traut said, was found with heroin. Both men were arrested.
He said officers investigating a tip-off then discovered an unlicenced .303 hunting rifle and four rounds of ammunition buried in an open field in Morgenster Road.
No one was arrested in connection with the rifle.
Murder scene and pistol seized
The day before police announced that eight firearms – six in Bishop Lavis and two in Gugulethu – had been confiscated during operations.
On Saturday, November 4, two suspects were arrested in Bishop Lavis with what police called a “prohibited firearm” and ammunition.
Police spokesperson Captain FC Van Wyk said officers had been at a murder scene in Rose Street, Bishop Lavis, where a man had been shot twice in the head and left arm.
While there, they heard about a firearm being kept at a home in Bream Way.
“Members took action to disperse the crowd.”
The officers went there, Van Wyk said, and discovered a 9mm Z88 pistol with the serial number filed off, a 9mm magazine and sixteen 9mm live rounds.
He said the men could not explain why the firearm was there, and they were arrested.
28s gangsters attack cops
“While the members were making their way out to their vehicle with the arrested suspects, the community and other 28 gang members started attacking the members with stones,” Van Wyk said.
“Members took action to disperse the crowd.”
Three residents were arrested on public violence charges.
On November 1, police officers went to a murder scene in The Hague, Delft.
When they arrived, they discovered the body of a man, 20, with a single gunshot wound to the head.
Van Wyk said residents had provided details of the shooters to the officers.
“Information revealed that four suspects had boarded a taxi which was en route to Belhar,” he said.
Hidden pistol found, teens detained
Police managed to intercept the taxi in Main Road, Delft.
Van Wyk said a 9mm Taurus was found hidden inside the taxi.
Three suspects – a 14-year-old who is in primary school, as well as two 16-year-olds – were arrested.
A 30-year-old man was later also taken into custody.
In one of several firearm confiscations in October, a suspect, 24, was arrested in Bromwell Street in Woodstock.
He was detained when police discovered a hunting rifle, a 9mm pistol, six rounds of ammunition, as well as 25 packets of tik and mandrax tablets, at former horse stables where residents stay.
On Sunday, October 15, a man, 25, was arrested in Hanover Park.
Van Wyk said, in this incident, a .38 special revolver with live ammunition was found. The serial number was on the revolver.
Cops target Hard Livings gang territory
Earlier in October, during police operations, guns were seized in Manenberg, a stronghold of the Hard Livings gang.
Van Wyk said on Saturday, October 14, officers had received information that an illegal firearm was being housed at a premises in Manenberg Avenue.
A 9mm pistol and 14 live ammunition rounds were discovered. Three men were arrested.
“This firearm had been reported stolen in a Philippi case,” Van Wyk said.
“The three men were identified as members of a gang grouping and were arrested for the possession of an illegal firearm and ammunition.”
An 18-year-old was arrested the day before in Red River Road after he started running away from patrolling police officers.
He was caught and, Van Wyk said, a .38 special revolver with five live rounds of ammunition was seized.
This firearm had not been reported as stolen.
Policeman, gun dealer arrested
On October 9, a police sergeant and a second suspect were arrested following a robbery of a shop in Elsies River.
Western Cape Hawks spokesperson Captain Lloyd Ramovha said a robbery suspect was caught and found with a police-issued firearm.
A police sergeant was then arrested when, that afternoon, he reported at the Delft police station that his firearm had been stolen during a home burglary.
That same day, Ramovha said a firearms dealer, 44, was arrested at a shooting range in Stellenbosch.
Eighteen firearms, as well as ammunition, were seized.
Ramovha said the dealer faced charges relating to the Firearms Control Act and Explosives Act.