Provincial Commissioner commends members on the ground for their concerted efforts to recover illegal firearms

PARKTOWN – Gauteng Commissioner of the SAPS, Lieutenant General Elias Mawela, has commended the vigilance of members on the ground, and urged the members to continue to clamp down even harder on the proliferation of illegal firearms.

This comes after at least sixteen (16) illegal firearms and a toy gun resembling a pistol, were recovered by different teams in either different joint operations or stop and searches since this past week’s O Kae Molao operations commenced.

On Thursday 23 January 2020, members of the Johannesburg Central Motorbike Squad were at a convenience store at one filling station on Gwigwi Mrwebi Street when they observed two suspicious vehicles parked next to each other with occupants in both. The members tested the vehicles and picked up a discrepancy on one. The vehicles and occupants were searched and police subsequently arrested six suspects found with one rifle, two pistols and ammunition. Only one pistol was licenced. A total of four vehicles were seized on the spot for further investigation after one of the vehicles was confirmed as hijacked as per case reported in November 2019 at Johannesburg Central SAPS.

On the same day in a joint operation between the SAPS and the JMPD, the members recovered five (5) firearms and arrested three suspects – two males aged 53 and 40, and a female aged 44. Four of the firearms were found at a house in Molapo, Soweto while further investigation led police to the fifth firearm at the Dube Hostels.

Meanwhile, Tshwane Flying Squad were on the lookout for a VW Polo that had been hijacked in Akasia. The vehicle was traced and located in Soshanguve Extension 11. Police found in the vehicle three unlicensed pistols and ammunition while the suspect evaded arrest.

On Friday 24 January 2020, Sedibeng Flying Squad and the K9 units responded to a complaint of a speeding vehicle and followed the vehicle until it was cornered in Sebokeng. The preliminary on-scene investigation revealed that the vehicle had been hijacked in Potchefstroom in the North West. Two pistols and ammunition were recovered with 11 suspected stolen cellphones and an undisclosed amount of cash. Four suspects were arrested and investigations are underway to establish if the four could be linked to a business robbery in Tshepiso, Sharpeville and any other previous crimes.

Still on Friday, two firearms were recovered by the Johannesburg Flying Squad when the members cornered a suspicious vehicle, a truck that crashed into another vehicle on Olifantsfontein Road. A man was rescued and he confirmed that he had been hijacked by the two arrested suspects in Britz. The trailer and the cargo (fresh vegetables) were not found.

On Saturday 25 January 2020 near a filling station along the R-21 northbound, a suspect was fatally wounded after he had allegedly disarmed a police officer. The members were responding to a call by the driver of a taxi for intervention as there was a fight amongst the commuters. Police recovered the illegal firearm while the circumstances surrounding the shooting incident are currently under investigation.

“For the SAPS, the recovery of so many illegal firearms means as many, if not more innocent lives, have been spared. Hijackings, house and business robberies have also been foiled,” said Lieutenant General Mawela appreciating the meaningful work of the members.

“A word of commendation also goes out to those off-duty members who put their own lives at risk in an intelligence-driven operation on Friday 24 January 2020, when the members foiled a robbery at a dumping site in Kwa Thema,” the Provincial Commissioner continued, explaining that one of the suspects was wounded during a crossfire with the police, while two of his accomplices were arrested. The off-duty members recovered an illegal firearm.

All these illegal firearms will be subjected to ballistic testing to establish linkage to previous serious and violent crimes. The arrested suspects will have appeared in respective Magistrate Courts in the Province by Monday 27 January 2020.

Owners of illegal and/or unwanted firearms are reminded that the firearm amnesty period is still underway and will run through to end of May 2020.

Source: South African Police Service