A two-year investigation has led cops to an underground safe on the Cape Flats where 250 firearms and ammunition were being stored.
The stash of police issue guns was found at a house in Lydia Street, Valhalla Park, where the home owner, a suspected 28s gangster, and four others were arrested.
Top police sources have linked the weapons to convicted former cop Christiaan Prinsloo, who admitted to stealing SAPS firearms and ammunition destined for destruction and supplying the weapons to criminals – “primarily members of gangs on the Cape Flats”.
Prinsloo named Cape Flats businessman Irshaad Laher as his middleman.
The sources say police acted on information from an informer outside Valhalla Park and knew exactly when and where to pounce.
At 6am on Friday morning, cops turned up at the scene armed with metal detectors and crowbars.
Heavily armed police officers rushed into the “neat, three-bedroom house”, and found five persons inside, including the homeowner, 65, his son, 41, and their barber.
Captain FC Van Wyk, says five people, including the barber, were bust, four men, aged 35, 41, 42 and 65, and a 38-year-old woman, who are expected to appear at Bishop Lavis Magistrates’ Court today on charges of the illegal dealing in, and possession of firearms and ammunition.
The police insider adds that suspects are linked to the notorious 28s prison gang.
On October 17, alleged Valhalla Park 28s gang boss, Ralph Stanfield, his sister and three police officers had charges including possession of unlicensed firearms against them dropped in a Khayelisha court.
Friday’s arrests did not go down well with the community, who clashed with cops at the scene, demanding the homeowner and his son be released.
People pelted cops with stones, who were forced to use stun grenades and teargas to disperse the crowd.
Van Wyk says a sixth suspect will be facing a charge of malicious damage to property after he was seen slashing police van’s tyres during the standoff.
Several police vans’ windows were also damaged, while a newspaper reporter’s car window was smashed.
Police sources say the violence broke out when certain suspects begged cops to arrest them and take them away because they feared for their lives after apparently piemping their accomplices.
During a search of the premises, metal detectors led cops to one of the bedrooms, where they used crowbars and pickaxes to break through the concrete floor.
Police unearthed three locked safes, and after breaking them open, found the large stash of police issue Z88 semi-automatic pistols.
A woman, 29, who lives at the house, says they had no idea guns were hidden in the floor.
“We don’t know what this is about, but they have already arrested my sister. My brother has been beaten, thrown wet and kicked around. He lives off an oxygen tank and these police officers chased the ambulance away,” she says.
A resident who refused to be identified said the homeowner was innocent and accused police of robbing them of their livelihood.
“Wat moet ons nou vriet, ha? Die man doen maintenance en construction. Hy gee onse kinnes werk vir hulle hande en sit kos op die tafel. It’s not right, man,” she says.
But police sources say the stash is directly linked to Prinsloo who was arrested in January 2015.
“This cache belongs to Prinsloo,” the cop tells Daily Voice.
Prinsloo, from Vereeniging , was sentenced to 18 years behind bars after entering into a plea bargain with the State this year.
His conviction led investigators to Laher and other informants.
National police spokesperson, Brigadier Sally de Beer, says the find may help in reducing serious and violent crimes in the province.
She confirmed on Friday that “over 250 firearms, ammunition and an undisclosed amount of cash have already been seized and are being processed”.
De Beer says: “We are confident that this cache will assist us in clamping down on the scourge of gangsterism and in reducing the stubborn contact crime trends which affect our communities, such as murder and vehicle hijacking.”