- A former police colonel who stole police-owned firearms and sold them to Cape Town gangs, has seemingly been released from prison.
- The man has apparently been photographed shopping in Vereeniging.
- Some of the firearms were linked to the deaths of 89 children and a further 170 children were injured.
A former police colonel who stole police-owned firearms and sold them to, among others, Cape Town gangs, has seemingly been released from prison after serving less than a third of his sentence.
According to reliable sources, Christiaan Prinsloo, 59, from Vereeniging, was already released in April from the Free State prison where he was last detained.
Spokespeople for the Department of Correctional Services and the Department of Justice refused to confirm or deny this.
However, if he has been released, it means he has only served three years and 10 months of his 18-year prison sentence.
Prinsloo was sentenced to an effective 18 years in prison on 21 June 2016, after pleading guilty in the Bellville Regional Court to 11 charges, including racketeering, corruption, money laundering, theft, the unlawful possession of firearms, the unlawful possession of ammunition and the sale of ammunition, firearms and spare parts to people not authorised to own such. He entered into a plea agreement with the State.
Photographed while shopping
Sources sent two photos of a man who looks like Prinsloo to Netwerk24 on Friday. They were taken in Vereeniging, Gauteng.
In one photo, the man can be seen walking in a parking lot, dressed in a khaki shirt and sweatpants.
A man believed to be convicted gun dealer Christiaan Prinsloo in a parking lot in Vereeniging.
In a second photo, taken on 19 September, he is in a shop. He stands at a till, paying for a two-litre bottle of milk. The man in the photos is not as skinny as Prinsloo was at the time of his court case.
After his sentencing, Prinsloo was initially detained at Obiqua Prison, outside Tulbagh in the Boland, Western Cape.
Sources claimed he was removed from the facility last year, without any notice to prison authorities, veiled in great secrecy and under heavy police escort. No one could say where he was taken.
Other sources said on Friday that he was held in Heidelberg Prison in Gauteng for a period after he was taken away from the Western Cape.
He was then allegedly transferred to a prison in the Free State before he was released.
Several enquiries have been sent to the Department of Correctional Services (DCS) and the Department of Justice since September.
On Friday, Logan Maistry, a DCS spokesperson, referred all enquiries to Delekile Klaas, the DCS’s area commissioner in the Western Cape.
A man who looks like Christiaan Prinsloo photographed in a shop in Vereeniging.
Klaas would not confirm whether Prinsloo had been released on parole, whether there were other arrangements for his release or why he was apparently spotted in Vereeniging.
But according to Klaas, Prinsloo is still on the DCS’s system and is still considered an offender. He said he would not answer questions due to security risks.
“Everyone is looking for this man, inside our prisons and outside the prisons.”
Enquiries were also sent to Justice Minister Ronald Lamola’s office. His spokesperson, Chrispin Phiri, said the ministry did not comment on the incarceration of individual prisoners.
“We will only comment on certain provisions that justify a decision or action from the minister.”
According to court records, Prinsloo and a colleague, who worked with him at the police munitions store, had stolen more than 2 000 firearms in police possession since 2007 and sold them to, among others, Western Cape gangs.
Guns used to kill children
By 2016, some of the firearms were linked to the deaths of 89 children and a further 170 children were injured. One of the stolen firearms sold to gangs was also ballistically linked to the deaths of 15 people in the Western Cape, including the mother of a Cape Town detective and the son of a retired police general.
Prinsloo said in his plea agreement that he and a colleague realised in 2006 that they were sitting on a gold mine. All forfeited firearms that had to be destroyed were stored there, among other things. From 2007 to January 2015, when he was arrested, they sold firearms to gangs in the Western Cape and elsewhere in the country.
Earned R2 million from gun sales
He admitted that they would have continued selling the weapons, had they not been caught. The court then also heard that the State had seized about R1.2 million from Prinsloo. Prinsloo said that he earned about R2 million from the gun sales.
Meanwhile, Irshaad Laher, the alleged middleman, and Alan Raves, a firearms dealer from Vereeniging, are still facing criminal charges in court.
Netwerk24 Ineke Coetzee
Raves’ legal representative told the court at the end of August – at their last appearance in the Western Cape High Court in Cape Town – that they had submitted an application to the Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg in which he asked that the case against him either be dropped permanently, or that his case be separated from Laher’s and heard in Gauteng.
His legal representative said they were still waiting for a date for Raves’ application to be heard.
Laher and Raves are facing charges of theft, corruption, the possession of unlicensed firearms and ammunition and racketeering.
They are to appear in court again on 12 February next year.
Read the original report in Afrikaans here.
Did you know you can comment on this article? Subscribe to News24 and add your voice to the conversation.