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Charl Kinnear assassination crops up in Cape Town polic...

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GUNS TO GANGS

Charl Kinnear assassination crops up in Cape Town police missing guns scandal

Illustrative image | Sources: Gallo Images | William McIntosh | Brenton Geach | Adobe Stock | Wikimedia

Fifteen handguns went missing from a Cape Town police station’s community service centre between April and August 2017. Five cops were dismissed for this. But it has been found they should be reinstated with back pay — and that the missing firearms matter could have links to assassinated detective Charl Kinnear.

Mention of Charl Kinnear’s murder surfaced in an arbitration matter that found in favour of five Cape Town police officers who were dismissed over firearms that went missing from a station in one of Cape Town’s gang hotspots in 2017.

It was also found that the five officers should receive back pay, collectively more than R5.3-million, for the period they were out of work.

“It has become a norm that there are allegations that senior officers are involved in corrupt activities and are involved in underworld activities.

“There is an insinuation that the death of Captain Kinnear might not only… link to the firearms debacle in Johannesburg, but these firearms as well might be a link,” the Safety and Security Sectoral Bargaining Council arbitration award in the matter said.

It was dated last Thursday, 15 April, and was by panellist Thuthuzela Ndzombane.

Daily Maverick has seen a copy of the arbitration award, which does not appear to be publicly available.

The “firearms debacle in Johannesburg” it referred to was a massive investigation into allegations that police officers based in Gauteng were fraudulently creating firearm licences for criminal suspects.

Kinnear was among the cops investigating this network, as well as several other underworld crimes, when he was assassinated on 18 September 2020 outside his home in Bishop Lavis, Cape Town.

Several years ago Kinnear was based at the Mitchells Plain police station, but at the time of his murder, he was working as part of the province’s Anti-Gang Unit.

The arbitration matter that wrapped up last week focused on 15 9-mm firearms, 15 9-mm magazines and 225 9-mm rounds of ammunition that went missing from the Mitchells Plain police station’s community service centre between 1 April and 31 August 2017.

Events leading up to the arbitration matter — the firearms going missing under the watch of Mitchells Plain cops — did not initially seem to involve Kinnear, but the detective was mentioned in the arbitration finding made last week when it was said the missing firearms could possibly have links to his murder.

The arbitration matter focused on five police officers Lieutenant-Colonel André Louw, Lieutenant-Colonel Donovan Pedro, Captain Jacobus Naudé, Lieutenant-Colonel Gayfford Bezuidenhout (who reached retirement age in August 2020) and Lieutenant-Colonel Jakobus Skosan (who died in April 2019).

These five officers, all stationed at the Mitchells Plain police station, were charged with misconduct relating to the loss of state property — the missing firearms and ammunition.

“The loss of firearms in such a big number is considered serious. Mitchells Plain is a gang-infested area,” the arbitration finding said.

“It is a concern to lose firearms in that area. The [five officers] were employed as shift commanders and relief commanders at the time the loss occurred.”

On 23 May 2018, they were dismissed from the police.

However, the arbitration award dated last week found that their dismissals were “substantively unfair,” and they should be retrospectively reinstated from when they were dismissed in May 2018 and up until February 2021 — meaning police should cough up more than R5.3-million to pay them from the time they were fired. 

Police should also pay them benefits accrued during that time. 

This also partially applies to Bezuidenhout, the retired officer, and Skosan, the officer who died in April 2019.

“The [police’s] representative could not even cross-examine the applicants probably because he could see that they had done nothing wrong. 

“From the onset, the applicants should not have been charged because there was no evidence against them and were not responsible for the… firearms,” the arbitration finding said.

It further stated: “It is a worrying factor that senior police officers are involved in these shenanigans instead of protecting, combating, and preventing crimes as required by the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa.”

The saga has unearthed further fractures and divides among police officers, as well as serious claims of possible collusion with criminals, and disingenuous cops.

In the Mitchells Plain arbitration matter, the firearms that went missing and central to the case were part of a police “Stabilising Unit”.

According to the five officers, this unit “belonged to” the commander of the Mitchells Plain cluster of police stations at the time, Major-General Gregory Goss (whose retirement from the police came into effect in January 2018 and who has denied wrongdoing while in the service).

The Stabilising Unit was meant to perform special duties.

“The Unit’s firearms were stored in the Community Service Centre’s safe in a trunk at Mitchells Plain Police Station,” the arbitration finding said. 

“The trunk which had a padlock, and they [the five officers] did not have access to the trunk’s keys.”

Goss, according to the finding, was meant to have appointed a designated member to oversee the safekeeping of firearms and ammunition earmarked for special duties. This was supposed to be documented in writing.

“Throughout these proceedings, the [South African Police Service] failed to provide whether there was any officer who was appointed as a designated member to oversee the safekeeping and control of the firearms…

“Failure to appoint a designated officer was gross negligence”.

In the arbitration finding, Goss was therefore accused of “dereliction of duties”.

However, Goss has denied any wrongdoing, telling Daily Maverick he retired “with a clean record.”

He is seeking legal advice about certain claims that surfaced in the arbitration hearing and has questioned why certain witnesses, including himself, were not called to testify.

The arbitration finding was extremely scathing in terms of how police managed the loss of the Mitchells Plain weapons.

“When the firearms for this Unit were lost it is clear to me that there was no investigation that was done,” it said.

“Instead, it appears that the commanders of the stations were held responsible for the loss. In the event of such a loss, any reasonable person [tasked] to investigate the matter would have first confronted the Unit’s commanders and the members who eventually lost the firearms.”

Another policeman mentioned in the arbitration finding was Brigadier Cass Goolam who also faced disciplinary measures relating to the missing firearms. He was suspended, but subsequently found not guilty and returned to work.

It said he tried to ensure the Stabilising Unit’s firearms and ammunition were securely kept.

“[Goolam] humbly begged Major-General Goss that there was huge risk of keeping the firearms at the station. In anticipation he argued that there would be accidental discharges because Mitchells Plain Police Station is… very busy,” the arbitration finding said, referring to Goolam’s evidence.

“Instead, he arranged a strong room facility at Lentegeur Police Station for the Stabilising Unit’s firearms to be kept there but Major-General Goss chased him out of the office.”

It was further claimed Goss victimised Goolam.

The finding then turned to alleged friction between Goss and Major-General Jeremy Vearey, the head of detectives in the Western Cape. (Vearey is widely viewed as being aligned to Goolam.)

“Evidence shows that Major-General Goss and Major-General Vearey did not see eye to eye,” it said.

Kinnear assassination
Lieutenant-Colonel Charl Kinnear was assassinated outside his home in Bishop Lavis, Cape Town. (Photo: Noor Slamdien)

Vearey had previously headed the Mitchells Plain cluster of police stations, the role that Goss had taken over.

“This resulted [in] the officers at Mitchells Plain who were close to Major-General Vearey to be ill-treated or victimised as per evidence. 

“There are also serious allegations that Major-General Goss might have been tied to the underworld gangs through his son. This implies that the loss of these firearms could have been a direct intent. To support this averment the investigation was shoddy, and it had no intention to pinpoint the culprits within [the] Unit,” the arbitration finding said.

Goss’s son Greg Goss Junior was murdered in the Cape Town suburb of Elsies River in 2014.

The arbitration finding, in relation to Goolam’s evidence, said that Goss was seen to be linked to a suspected high-flying Cape Town gang boss and that his son had also possibly been aligned to this suspected gangster. 

Goss has categorically denied any such links involving himself.

The arbitration finding also said that like Kinnear, Goolam had been on a hitlist and that they were targeted because they were effectively disrupting illicit firearm supply chains.

“The perpetrators have lucrative tenders, and the police are disturbing their businesses,” it said.

Goss told Daily Maverick: “I have noted the content of the remarks made by Brig Goolam in the arbitration hearing where only the charged employees and Goolam testified. The employer called no witnesses, why I don’t know. 

“I deny with contempt the allegations made by Goolam and [am] currently seeking legal advice on appropriate legal steps against him.”

Goss said he had never seen, or met, the suspected gang boss referred to during the arbitration hearing.

He said the police would have to explain why he and other pertinent cops were not called to testify in the hearing.

Asked if police investigators had ever approached him about the missing Mitchells Plain firearms, he said police would need to be asked “or the best person is Goolam”.

Goss further stated that he did not understand why Goolam appeared to have referred to his son.

“My son was also killed years before this theft of the firearms at Mitchells Plain so he must also substantiate how does he link a dead man to it.”

Several years ago, Goss made news headlines when it was reported that he was unhappy with the way the investigation into his son’s murder had unfolded.

Two arrested suspects had later been released from custody.

Eyewitness News previously reported that: “The grieving father said when he saw the docket last year he found detectives had failed to do basic checks, like investigating the prior use and history of the gun.

“Goss said he’s willing to go to court to expose general malpractice and corruption within the police service.”

Cape Town Mayor Dan Plato, at the time the community safety MEC, had backed Goss.

“Maj Gen Goss’ revelations points to sloppy investigative work, questions arising about the availability and effectiveness of the witness protection programme and poor criminal justice system decisions to go to court with cases which are not yet ready for trial,” Plato had said.

Meanwhile, Vearey, viewed as a rival to Goss, previously pointed to Plato as running a smear campaign against him via dubious informants, which Plato denied. 

Beneath all this, it is still not publicly clear what happened to all the firearms and ammunition missing from Mitchells Plain.

Last week’s arbitration finding did not mention these details.

But a Hawks presentation to Parliament, apparently from a few years ago, said that about two months after the firearms were discovered to be missing, police officers “stopped and searched a known adult male gang member” from Cape Town gang hotspot Manenberg in October 2017.

“A 9mm pistol and 10 rounds of ammunition (were) discovered in his possession and subsequently verified as being stolen in the Mitchells Plain theft case,” it said.

Some of the items stolen from under the noses of Mitchells Plain police had therefore ended up in a gang hotspot. DM

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  • What a shambles. Small wonder Mitchells and surrounds is a cesspool of organised crime it’s easier when the SAPS is so systemically disorganised.

  • Respect is earned. There is none left for the SAPS. Granted, statistically there may be an honest outlier or two. But the more we know about the police the less we want to know.

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