Mitchells Plain residents protest police silence over guns stolen from the cop shop

About 50 residents of Mitchells Plain protested outside the police station on Thursday. All photos by Mzi Velapi

Mitchells Plain residents are worried that the guns stolen from SAPS will be used to commit more violent crime in the area.

Mitchells Plain residents led by the Cape Flats Safety Forum protested outside the Mitchells Plain police station, demanding the immediate suspension of the station commander and senior management. The protest was a response to recent reports of the disappearance of 15 firearms and 8 imitation firearms, presumed to have been stolen from the police station. According to the police, the firearms were stolen over a period of six months but the ongoing theft was only discovered on the 15th of November. A 32-year-old Mitchells Plain-based detective constable was arrested three days after the discovery was made and will appear in the magistrate court on the 2nd of February.

Fourteen guns
disappeared from
this police station in 2017

According to the Cape Flats Safety Forum, a precedent was set in 2017 when the station commander and senior management were suspended immediately following a similar case. The forum’s secretary, Lynn Phillips told Elitsha that they believe that a syndicate is involved in the disappearance of the firearms. “The guy who was arrested is only a constable and I strongly believe that this guy took the flak for someone else. I would love for him to speak out. We believe that there is something deeper brewing here. It can’t be one person who did all that. We are clear that there is a syndicate and why? Fourteen guns in 2017 disappeared at this police station!” she said. According to media reports, fifteen 9mm firearms were stolen from the station in 2017.

“We want to know why was this kept under wraps for such a long time. Why are SAPS members arming criminals and gangs with guns. We want this station to be under administration and national SAPS to take over. We want a thorough audit, we want a lifestyle audit of each and every police officer at this police station because we want to see how deep they are linked. This is not the first time this has happened at this police station,” said Phillips.

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The police say the theft of 15 firearms and 8 imitation firearms was discovered in November last year.

Community Police Forum (CPF) chairperson for Mitchells Plain, Norman Jantjes said that they also only heard about it ‘in the corridors’ last week and they then demanded a meeting with the station commander. “We met with the station commander on Friday last week and he confirmed that 15 firearms and imitation guns have disappeared. We were obviously upset that he never trusted us to share the information with us. We want to know how it happened and why it was allowed to happen. We are very concerned because one of the contributing factors to serious crimes in this area is gun violence. We are also concerned that those who are involved might be let off the hook because there won’t be any forensic evidence linking them to the guns,” Jantjes said.

Jasmine Harris, the projects coordinator for Mitchells Plain CPF told Elitsha that the meeting with the station commander did not go well, which was the reason they took to protesting. Harris said that gun violence is getting so bad in Mitchells Plain, she is considering moving out of the area. “I want to sell my house and move out of Mitchells Plain because lying in your bed and counting shots going off, one by one and it adds up to 19. For me it is horrific and traumatic because it could be my child or someone else’s child that gets shot. In most instances it is innocent children and people who die because of gun violence,” she said.

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“As a woman who has fought crime for over 30 years, having seen what Mitchells Plain was like and what it is now, I’m telling you, I’m scared. You have to think twice, you have to look out before leaving your house to check if it is safe,” said Harris.

Mitchells Plain station commander, Brigadier Jan Alexander, accepted the memorandum from the protesters.

The Mitchells Plain police station, one of the biggest in Cape Town, repeatedly makes it to the top of the 30 stations reporting the highest number of crimes.

Recently, the police minister, Bheki Cele revealed to parliament that 1,725 SAPS firearms were stolen between April 2021 and July 2023.

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