Police sued over lives taken with cop-smuggled guns: Major-General Jeremy Vearey

A class action lawsuit has been launched by families of those killed and maimed by guns smuggled to gangsters by cops. Former top cop Major-General Jeremy Vearey has given BizNews the inside story of the investigation codenamed Project Impi, which was eventually disbanded after interference from top brass. About 1 700 people were killed with those firearms over a seven-year period. General Vearey has given an affidavit to the law firm acting pro bono for the families of the victims. He had long warned that the police would be liable for “victim death by death, murder by murder with those guns.” He calls for the Central Firearm Registry to be removed from the authority of the police. – Chris Steyn


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A class action has been launched by families of those killed and maimed by guns smuggled to gangsters by cops. 

One of those involved in the original investigation was the former head of Detectives in the Western Cape, Major-General Jeremy Vearey. 

General Vearey has now given BizNews the inside story of the investigation codenamed Project Impi.

He says the “integrity” of “every single national commissioner, every single divisional commissioner who had anything to do with firearms, and every single officer in the SAPS Armoury or the SAPS Central Firearm Registry” was investigated.

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However, Project Impi was eventually disbanded after interference from top brass.

These are some of the many shocking discoveries made by cops investigating their crooked colleagues: 

  • One cop alone smuggled about 2 400 guns;
  • 16 murders were committed with one of those guns across different gang areas in the Western Cape in just two months;
  • About 1 700 people were killed with those firearms over a seven-year period;
  • The smuggled guns were used in at least 3 500 attempted murders over that period;
  • About 1 200 of the firearms were recovered, but thousands have remained in the hands of criminals; 
  • Certain central firearms stores were like a supermarket where illegal gun dealers and actual gun dealers would be shown around by corrupt cops to pick out the weapons they wanted;
  • Corrupt cops would sign “destruction” orders for guns ordered by their criminal cohorts;  
  • Some of the trafficked guns ended up in conflict areas in Africa;
  • In one case, SANDF firearms that were supposed to have been destroyed, ended up in the Congo where they were used in violent clashes;
  • Prior to the growth of the gang market, smuggled guns were also used in political conflict areas like KZN and the Eastern Cape;
  • Some of the trafficked weapons were even used in big taxi shoot-outs;
  • The corrupt cops would illegally obtain valuable collector’s weapons from elderly people by threatening to lock them up if they didn’t hand them in; and
  • A set of antique Purdy duelling pistols – extorted from an old lady in Prince Albert – was sold for about R5-million to a collector.

Reflecting on the outcome of Project impi, General Vearey says: “…we’ve had the success of it and we’ve arrested somebody and they went to prison…and there’s other trials that are still emerging from it…but that does not excuse us as the police because every gun of that outstanding guns that kills again, and every day that goes by that we do not make any concerted effort to find those, we are increasing our liability. Victim death by death, murder by murder with those guns.

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“You need a specialised unit whose job it is specifically to go and find those guns before we become liable for ten, twelve murders with one gun, as we found with one firearm – that we luckily got back – that killed sixteen people in a period of two months. So, there is an obligation on us.”

The class action suit against the police follows General Vearey’s engagement over a number of years with Gun Free South Africa (GFSA) – and him personally making an affadavit to Norton Rose Fulbright, the firm acting pro bono for the families of the victims.

“I made sure they have the information on who up the chain is all involved, either by negligence or corruption or whatever, in order to basically point out the systemic liability that the SAPS have.”

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Meanwhile, General Vearey believes corrupt cops are continuing to smuggle guns to criminals.

One solution is to remove the Central Firearm Registry from the police and put it in the hands of  a local government authority or a province to ensure a wider monitoring system. “We need to disperse the administration of that registry system and the issuing of licenses because we’ve proven time and time again that licenses get issued to gangsters.”

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