Targeting Prinsloo Guns
People vs The State: CLASS ACTION
On behalf of affected families. Gun Free South Africa has applied for certification of a class action against the state to claim for deaths and injuries resulting from Prinsloo Guns.
Unknown mother mourning her son. If you know who she is please let us know. She represents all the unknown victims of Prinsloo Guns.
WHAT ARE PRINSLOO GUNS?
Prinsloo Guns include over 2,000 guns that were stolen from police stores by a senior police officer, Colonel Christiaan Prinsloo, and distributed to criminals between 2007 and 2015.
HOW IT BEGAN
In 2013, the South African Police Service (SAPS) began recovering an excessive number of guns on the Cape Flats that had been professionally ‘cleaned’ of identifying marks – proof that a sophisticated gun smuggling syndicate was at work.
To track the supplier, two senior police officials, Major-Generals Peter Jacobs and Jeremy Vearey, registered Project Impi in December 2013. Their investigation led to the arrest in 2015 of a senior SAPS member, Colonel Christiaan Prinsloo, a Gauteng provincial commander of Firearms, Liquor and Second Hand Goods and respected “firearms guru”.
Prinsloo confessed to working with another police officer, Colonel David Naidoo, an operational officer in the Confiscated Firearms Store at Silverton in Pretoria, to smuggle guns that had been confiscated
by or surrendered to the police for destruction, to gang leaders on the Cape Flats. Prinsloo entered into a plea bargain with the State, providing detailed information on the syndicate in return for a lesser sentence.
Two of Prinsloo’s alleged accomplices – Alan Raves (a firearms dealer) and Irshaad Laher (a businessman who was allegedly selling stolen guns to gang leaders) – are currently facing charges. Despite this development, the effectiveness of Project Impi in prosecuting those responsible and addressing structural weaknesses that allowed (and continue to allow) guns to leak from the police to criminals, has been severely hampered – by the State.
HOW IT GOT WORSE
After Project Impi received an affidavit in 2016 implicating then president Jacob Zuma in state capture, efforts to shut the ‘guns to gangs’ syndicate down were themselves shut down. Instead of being recognised for their work, Jacobs and Vearey were demoted and Project Impi “decimated”.
When Jacobs and Vearey challenged their demotion in the Labour Court, and won their case in August 2017, the SAPS responded by challenging the Labour Court’s findings. It was during Jacobs’ and Vearey’s Labour Court case that information on Project Impi was made public, including evidence showing that:
of the guns stolen by Prinsloo and Naidoo were forensically linked to 1,066 murders in the Western Cape between February 2010 and 5 June 2016.
children between the ages of one and 17 years old were shot between February 2010 and December 2015 with Prinsloo Guns, 67 of whom were killed.
guns that Prinsloo admitted to stealing, more than 1,000 are still missing.
Soon after replacing Jacob Zuma, President Cyril Ramaphosa appointed Jacobs as Head of Crime Intelligence and Vearey as Western Cape Head Detective. However, both have subsequently lost their positions. Jacobs was demoted at the beginning of March 2021 and Vearey was fired in May 2021 over “‘threatening’ Facebook posts that ‘degraded’” then National Police Commissioner Khehla Sitole.
In addition, Anti-Gang Unit section head Lt. Colonel Charl Kinnear, who was heading a nationwide investigation into a massive firearms racket involving corrupt cops, was assassinated outside his home in Bishop Lavis on 18 September 2020, allegedly after protection for him was withdrawn.
HOW IT CAN END
Gun Free South Africa (GFSA), working with a coalition of partners, has applied to the Western Cape High Court for the certification of class action proceedings against the Minister of Police, National Police Commissioner and Provincial Police Commissioners with the aim of Claiming for damages associated with deaths and injuries resulting from the actions of Prinsloo and Naidoo who coordinated the sale of guns to gangs.
GFSA is also looking at ways to Address failures in SAPS’ firearms and ammunition management system, which allowed Prinsloo, Naidoo and others to leak guns from police stores, undetected, for years.
WHAT IS A CLASS ACTION?
A class action is when a large group of people who have been wronged by the same someone or something claim relief in a single court action. Typically such people may not even be aware that they are potential claimants and the class action is thus a means of protecting and advancing their rights.
The Prinsloo Guns class action is seeking:
- Financial Relief: linked to deaths and injuries from being shot with a Prinsloo Gun
- In time, a possible Structural Interdict to improve protocols for recording, storing and handling firearms by the police so that someone like Prinsloo can never again arm criminals
Anyone who suffered damages as a result of being shot with a Prinsloo Gun or anyone who suffered damages as a result of their loved one being shot with a Prinsloo Gun should approach GFSA to determine whether they fall within the relevant class.
This could include:
- Children who were shot and injured
- Parents or guardians of children who were shot and killed
- Adults who were shot and injured
- Dependants of adults who were shot and killed
The legal costs to class action members will not include labour or legal fees, because this is done on a pro bono (voluntary) basis. However the class representative and or the members of the class will be required to fund disbursements (costs) for travel and the like.