Ten years ago, the South African Police Service (SAPS) confirmed that there was an “ongoing investigation across the entire gun license issuance value chain”.
According to a July 12, 2013 government statement, allegations of fraud and corruption at the Central Firearms Register (CFR), sometimes called the Register, were under investigation at the time.
A report was released this weekJust One Day 10 Years Later, she details how the Council on Foreign Relations was in trouble even before then and has been constantly in trouble ever since.
Entitled The State of South Africa’s Central Firearms Registry: Challenges and Opportunities, it was launched by pressure group Gun Free South Africa and the African Civilian Control Policing Forum.
The Daily Maverick paired some of its content with past police statements to underscore how far the problems at CFR have come and how, decades after some were first arrested, the police are still mucking around tackling important cases.
CFR is critical in South Africa, where crime involving firearms is common. It falls under SAPS and is responsible for maintaining comprehensive records and databases of all firearms in South Africa – licences, competency certificates, imports and exports as well as the loss, recovery, theft or destruction of any weapons.
However, the CFR has been constantly at the center of controversy for reasons ranging from Poor storage methods that resulted in paperwork being piled up in the aisles To control corruption in its ranks.
Guns for gangs
The report, released this week, is linked to a class action recently filed in the Western Cape, involving families of individuals killed or injured in the province by firearms smuggled by police.
The case hinges on Project Embi, South Africa’s largest investigation into firearms trafficking, Which led to the arrest of Chris Prinsloo. The former police colonel admitted to selling firearms that were meant to be destroyed to people who allegedly passed the weapons on to gangsters.
Prinsloo was convicted in 2016, but that same year Project Empey collapsed, with some cops claiming that SAPS bosses had killed him.
The Prinsloo Affair emphasized how police officers were part of South Africa’s gun control problems.
According to the report, strict oversight mechanisms and an eradication of police corruption are vital, although more research is needed to analyze how to tighten firearms controls.
During its release he also suggested that all government departments report to Parliament within a year, showing how many firearms they had and how many might have been lost or stolen.
Reshape the record
The report explains where the CFR fits into the legislation:[It] under the Arms and Ammunition Act (No. 75 of 1969) and is currently governed by the Firearms Control Act (FCA) (No. 60 of 2000), as amended.”
In the late 1990s, the report says, the CFR Board underwent a major restructuring and increased in size “due to the dysfunctions of the time and high levels of gun violence.”
Another reason was that “the CFR’s electronic systems were outdated and difficult to use, and many CFR employees were not adequately trained in data entry and access.”
However, by the early 2000s, progress had been made in forming the registry and more comprehensive criteria for firearms applicants had been introduced.
Designated firearms officers, who handle matters relating to firearms, have also been introduced to police stations.
But this also came with issues. “The more rigorous civil licensing process was very labor intensive, particularly the background checks,” the report says.
Firearms license holders needed to renew their licenses, in accordance with the Firearms Control Act, and renewal requests numbered in the millions. “These dynamics have placed significant administrative pressure on CFR staff, with the result that processing often takes an extremely long time to finish,” the report says.
The high level of firearms license denials between 2000 and 2010 has led to numerous threats of legal action by firearms-related interest groups, with some filings.
“This litigation, along with concerns publicly expressed by firearms enthusiasts, led the Minister of Police to instruct the Civil Secretariat of the Police Service to create a task force in 2010 to scrutinize the CFR’s working methods.”
Licensing violations and fraud
In 2010, Nthi Mthethwa, who was the Minister of Police at the time, said: “A number of worrying issues have been raised. Regarding irregularities in issuing firearms licenses…
“There are also cases where one firearm is licensed to two different people and/or firearms are illegally issued to people whose licenses were really denied (these individuals have to pay bribes).”
By 2011, the police had successfully tackled the license backlog, processing more than a million licenses in nine months. However, the report says this also caused some cracks in the gun control.
“While a welcome success, the danger is that fast tracking has compromised South Africa’s firearms control management system.”
The Council on Foreign Relations has also been implicated in allegations of corruption, and in 2013 SAPS confirmed that it was investigating possible fraud and corruption in the registry.
The following year, Brigadier General Mathabilo Mangwani, who chaired the Council on Foreign Relations, He was fired for allegedly accepting bribes To expedite the issuance of some firearms licenses.
Also in 2014, a suspected mob boss of the 28th Ralph Stanfield is arrestedWith his wife Nicole, sister Francesca, and three CFR police officers – Priscilla Mangiani, Bailey April, and Mary Cartwright. These cops allegedly created fake firearms licenses for crime suspects.
A 2014 police presentation to parliament listed several other problems with police gun handling, including “improper control of firearms being handed out at police stations”. The CFR had “inadequate storage facilities” and was understaffed, and “dust and grime” was reported at its headquarters.
SAPS did damage control in 2015, and issued a statement saying it did CFR cleaning. “To prevent any opportunity for corruption, SAPS screens and vets individuals who perform functions in the unit,” she said. Moreover, these individuals will be rotated. There is now a clear separation of functions, limited access to certain user functions and cryptographic and password control measures.
This was not enough.
Kill a cop
SAPS announced in 2020 that “extensive and extensive investigations have followed the allegations Twist and turnIn parts of the CFR it has led to “the arrests, at this point, of at least 16 people in several criminal cases.”
Fraudulent gun licenses were allegedly issued to individuals not intended to be in possession of such documents.
Police officers were also allegedly among those arrested Organized crime boss Navez Modak. Although charges related to the firearms arrests were temporarily withdrawn earlier this year, Modak remains charged in a murder case related to Assassination of Police Detective Charles Kinnear In Cape Town in September 2020.
The Daily Maverick previously reported that Kinnear was investigating how police officers in Gauteng created fraudulent gun licenses — and how His murder could lead to the collapse of those cases.
Meanwhile, according to the report released this week, there has been slow progress in improving the CFR in recent years.
“Between 2017 and 2021, there appears to have been little progress in addressing problems with the CFR’s electronic licensing system. In 2021, SAPS has compiled a new four-pillar “Action Plan” for the CFR to enhance capabilities and capabilities; strengthen governance; address issues related to Manages file storage and office space; and handles System Development and Enhancement.
It appears that issues related to Covid-19 have hampered the implementation of that plan.
The Daily Maverick previously reported that Parliament has heard that the headquarters of the Council on Foreign Relations is located in the Veritas Building in Pretoria, which has been found unsuitable for human occupation since 2019. It must move to another building, Telecom Towers, which is only expected to be ready for occupation in October. from this year.
Parliament has also heard that although there has been some improvement in the CFR, the sale of ammunition is still recorded by the police manually rather than electronically.
To solve this problem, the government’s information technology agency was awarded a contract on April 5, 2023. However, SAPS may actually be in contempt of the court order regarding the deadline for the digitization of records.
Based on the report released this week, meetings in parliament and police statements themselves, decades of undermining gun control in South Africa include policeman corruption, lack of resources, outdated storage and record keeping. This is with the continuation of crimes involving firearms.
Track down all the guns.
During the launch of the report, The State of South Africa’s Central Firearms Registry: Challenges and Opportunities, in Cape Town this week, Lynn Phillips, secretary of the Cape Flats Security Forum, said she didn’t need to turn on Netflix to hear about gunshots. She lives in the Cape Town suburb of Mitchells Plain, where gun violence is rampant. In a sign of how bad the problem is, a nine-year-old boy died in hospital this week after being shot in the head in another Cape Town suburb and gang hotspot, Mannenberg. Although the incident did not appear to be gang-related, it did highlight concerns about guns.
Phillips emphasized that SAPS needs to track all firearms used in offences, even after arrests have led to convictions. For example, a suspect can be arrested and convicted of shooting, but if the firearm is not found, it can still be used for other crimes. Phillips indicated that the police should take such a situation into account.
SAPS announced last week that it has seized 54,517 firearms since April of last year.
“Over 15,700 of these firearms, which were seized during crime prevention operations, and either voluntarily surrendered or confiscated to the state, were also destroyed in Vanderbijlpark, Gauteng,” it said in a statement released on July 6.
“SAPS will continue to step up its operations to detect and remove illegal firearms and ammunition from the streets of South Africa.” DM
This story first appeared in our weekly newspaper DM168 and is available nationwide for R29.