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Mayco member for safety and security JP Smith said he only relayed what police had told the City’s metro police department, in that the serial number on a firearm confiscated in Hanover Park showed it was supposed to have been destroyed by police in 2008.
This came as police, on Monday, slammed as “devoid of truth” claims by Smith as reported in the March 8 edition of the Cape Argus that the firearm found in the illegal possession of a suspect two days prior was destroyed, according to the serial number.
Police spokesperson André Traut said the firearm Smith referred to was reported stolen by the licensed owner on July 1, 2003 in Bellville and recovered when a suspect was arrested during a crime operation on December 17, 2004 by members of the Elsies River Crime Prevention Unit.
“Following a hearing in terms of Section 102 of the Firearms Control Act, the owner was found unfit to possess a firearm and it was forfeited to the State, and subsequently destroyed in 2008.”
Traut said the allegation that this firearm made its way back into circulation prompted an investigation by the Provincial Organised Crime Investigation Unit.
“The outcome of this investigation determined that the particular firearm destroyed by SAPS was a Taurus with the serial number stamped on the right hand side. The one seized in Hanover Park by Metro Police was a Rossi with the same serial number as the Taurus, but stamped on the left hand side, with traces that it was not done by the manufacturer. An electro-acid etching process undertaken by the SAPS Forensic Science Laboratory revealed that this Rossi’s original serial number was located on the right-hand side, before it was removed. This process further revealed the original serial number which allowed the investigating officer to trace the firearm back to its roots. The firearm was reported stolen on May 18, 2004 at Steenberg police station by the executor of the late owner’s estate. Further investigation discovered that both owners of the two firearms were acquainted and knew each other at the time that the two firearms went missing years ago, which in all probability led to the Taurus’ serial number being used to guise the Rossi.”
Traut said police records showed that the seizure of the Rossi was the first discovery of that particular firearm, and that it had never been in their possession before and not on their database as destroyed.
Smith said that the information was supplied to the metro police department by Philippi SAPS.
“It is only new information now being presented that suggests otherwise, and only months after the previous incident. The heading of the SAPS statement should therefore be ‘Information previously supplied to the City of Cape Town by SAPS was incorrect and new information is now available’.
“It would help if this level of investigation is applied to all the gang shootings and criminal matters relating to firearms, which would perhaps allow for a higher conviction rate rather than the 2% or 3% gang conviction rate we have had to live with,” Smith said.
He added that this was not the only incident of a previously destroyed and confiscated firearm inexplicably being in the hands of gangsters, as outlined in statements by the metro police department in previous years and as exposed by previous criminal convictions.