Saturday, May 18, 2024

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Criminals are registering security companies to access firearms, court hears

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Corrupt police officers are helping criminals open security companies to access firearms, the Verulam Magistrate’s Court has heard.

Hawks investigator Detective Warrant Officer, Sivan Naidoo told the court his team discovered the trend during its investigations in high-profile cases against drug dealers and gangsters.

Naidoo was testifying in opposition to Anthony Gounden’s bail application.

Gounden, 44 is charged with the attempted murder of an off-duty metro police officer on March 9. He is also facing charges of fraud, defeating and obstructing the course of justice and the unlawful possession of firearms.

Naidoo told the court Gounden allegedly had the Verulam Police Station under his control and some detectives were on his payroll.

Security Association of South Africa (SASA) national administrator Tony Botes told ProtectionWeb that South Africans, with a criminal record not older than 10 years, are not permitted to be registered as security officers in any capacity, from top management down to the lowest category.

“Unfortunately there are undoubtedly corrupt SA Police Service officials, as everywhere else, and those applicants with a criminal record can obtain “clean” reports, for example, by having someone else’s fingerprints taken but with the criminal’s real name, ID number and signature on the fingerprint report.”

“The SAPS Criminal Record Centre (CRC) will then issue a clean report and nobody will be any the wiser,” he said.

Botes said SASA had no specific information on the trend but, in hindsight, it “could be happening anywhere.”

“I do not think that SAPS has the capacity to have a senior officer physically overseeing every person’s fingerprint and co-signing the SAPS 91(a) fingerprint inquiry form.”

Association of Private Security Owners of South Africa (TAPSOSA) spokesperson Sindisiwa Changuion said there seemed to be an apparent strategy employed by criminals after noting that having an entity that operates as a private security provider enables the provider to apply for firearm licences as part of the operational requirement by the provider.

The problem does not only exist KZN. It is becoming a national issue which needs to be attended to before it becomes a major problem that spirals out of control.

Association of Private Security Owners of South Africa (TAPSOSA) spokesperson Sindisiwa Changuion

“In this regard, they tend to use the system to access these firearms by masquerading as private security providers,” she said.

Changuion called on the Private Security Industry Regulatory Authority (PSiRA), as the regulator, to intervene in this process by proactively conducting inspections to most companies.

“The regulator must increase the capacity of its inspectorate division so that they can root out such practices that paint the industry in a bad light as clearly there is a loophole in the system that enables such practices to thrive under their watch,” she said.

PSiRA did not respond to a request for comment.

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