Cops target Cape Town security firm accused of having another business’s shotguns and pistols
The Hawks this week allegedly discovered that a security company in Cape Town was operating with firearms registered to another firm in Gauteng. Police have before, in separate matters, warned that some private security businesses act as fronts for gun smugglers and gangsters.
The issue of private security companies operating with firearms they are not meant to have has again surfaced in Cape Town, pointing to how some such businesses can break the law and do the opposite of what they purport to.
In the Western Cape, South Africa’s gangsterism capital, this problem has before cropped up in terms of “security” offered to — in some cases allegedly forced on — entertainment venues.
On Thursday 22 June, the Hawks announced that it had cracked down on a company, Custodian Global Security VIP and Medical, following an enquiry that was launched last month.
While Custodian Global Security VIP and Medical’s website said it was registered with the Private Security Industry Regulatory Authority (Psira) and that “all weapons are registered with [South African Police Service] SAPS and stored, issued, and serviced as prescribed by South African law,” cops alleged this was not the case.
The company provided a Psira registration number on its website.
Daily Maverick ran the registration number via Psira’s online portal and a result showed that a company, Precision Alpha Security, trading as Custodian Global Security, was registered on 5 July last year.
According to the Psira portal, its certificate was set to expire in July next year.
On Friday morning a man who answered a call from Daily Maverick to a number listed for the company said he had no response to the police allegations, but would forward this journalist’s contact number to another individual.
That individual did not return the call by the time of publication.
A response to Daily Maverick’s query will be added once it is received.
34 pistols, eight shotguns
Hawks spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Siyabulela Vukubi on Thursday alleged Custodian Global Security VIP and Medical “does not exist on” Psira or on the police’s Enhanced Firearm Registration System.
A team of police officers inspected the company’s premises, in the Cape Town suburb of Maitland, on Wednesday 21 June.
“The team discovered a total of 42 firearms (34 pistols and eight shotguns) and a number of ammunition stored in three different safes on the premises,” Vukubi said.
“It was later established that the firearms found on the premises are licensed under a company based in Centurion.”
A case of firearms and ammunition possession without a license, permit or authorisation in terms of the Firearms Control Act was opened.
Vukubi added that a suspect, 57, who was at the premises during the inspection, was arrested.
Independent Online reported the suspect, Mark Carelse, appeared in the Cape Town Magistrate’s Court and was released on R5,000 bail.
He was expected back in court in September.
Companies fronting for guns
Broader problems, not linked to that company, relating to private security and firearms have previously emerged.
Sources involved in the industry have before said that security companies can apply to police to use firearms as part of their operations, but that criminals can use the firms as fronts to get hold of guns.
Such allegations link to the nightclub security industry, especially in the Western Cape.
Read more in Daily Maverick: The Enforcers – Inside Cape Town’s Deadly Nightclub Battles
A name that has repeatedly cropped up in this arena is that of Nafiz Modack.
The alleged organised crime kingpin, who now faces a range of criminal charges including murder, was previously accused in an extortion case relating to private security.
Modack was effectively accused of using force to try and secure work relating to nightclub security, or bouncer activities, in Cape Town.
He was acquitted of those charges in February 2020, but allegations linked to him, firearms and private security persist.
Backfiring private security
In November 2021 Daily Maverick reported on a failed Western Cape high court application, initiated by the company ASP Elite Protection Services CC, to have firearms that were confiscated by the police, returned to it.
It was alleged in the matter that “for extended periods” Modack had been given a firearm.
The judgment in the matter said a permit book, found with an employee of ASP Elite Protection Services, was used to issue permits to Modack for the possession of a Glock.
It said: “Modack is not a security officer employed by [ASP Elite Protection Services], is not in possession of a competency certificate, and is not registered as a security service provider with Psira.”
A recent Western Cape high court judgment dated 4 May 2023, against Modack, also referenced private security.
Modack had claimed that, prior to his arrest in 2021, certain police officers had been “harassing [him] whilst he has lawfully been acting as a consultant to certain security businesses, and whilst he has been in lawful possession of firearms.”
Read more in Daily Maverick: Ayepyep to State Capture – the Western Cape’s chronically converging gang and ‘security’ problems
However, those police officers had countered that “far from being singled out as alleged, [Modack] was, and is, just one of several parties involved in, or suspected to be involved in, the extortion and intimidation of businesses, particularly restaurants, pubs and nightclubs.”
The judgment continued: “This state of affairs has given rise to a spate of violence, including murders. [Modack] was also one of thousands of suspects nationwide involved in fraud on a grand scale relating to the unlawful issuing of firearms licences.”
Half a million private guards
According to Psira’s 2021 to 2022 annual report, at the end of March last year, there were 586,042 registered active security officers and 11,540 businesses in the country.
It said in the year leading up to 31 March last year, 825 security personnel were arrested.
Of the 825, 462 of them were unregistered service providers, while 198 were foreigners without the necessary documents to work in this country and “15 were as a result of non-compliance with the Firearms Control Act.”
The issue of private security and firearms was discussed in Parliament last month.
Psira director Manabela Chauke had said that the authority inspected companies licensed to carry firearms and that once such companies were withdrawn, they were reported to police.
‘Dysfunctional’ Central Firearm Registry
The Parliament meeting minutes said: “There used to be an enforcement unit that worked with Psira, where some staff members went around and collected firearms from the companies that were liquidated or withdrawn.
“The SAPS had since decentralised that unit, but currently, they had set up a firearm enforcement unit within Psira and were busy trying to capacitate it regarding training and the necessary competencies.”
According to minutes of last month’s meeting in Parliament, Psira’s acting chief operations officer Isaac Ralioma had said establishing “a special operations unit” was among its plans.
The unit would “focus mainly on the management and monitoring of firearms issued to the security industry.”
During last month’s meeting, Parliament also heard the “dysfunction” at the police’s Central Firearm Registry (CFR) was affecting Psira’s access to a database relating to guns.
Daily Maverick has reported extensively on the many problems experienced at the CFR, which a member of Parliament’s police committee last month described as “an unmitigated crisis”. DM