Today is Mother’s Day. A day when many families celebrate mothers with joy and gratitude. It is also a day of heightened remembrance for those whose mothers have died. And for mothers whose children have died, it is a day of heightened grief. I witnessed the heart wrenching grief of mothers this past week. Mothers recounting the killing and injury of their children from gun violence. Mothers who will feel the heightened pain of loss today.
Cape Town is not a very big place when you think about it. Communities that are just a few kilometres from each other might as well be on different continents – such is the difference in life … and death. The mothers spoke of the trauma of living in communities on the Cape Flats that are saturated with gang and gun violence. They told of the necessity to text each other before they walk to the store. “Is it safe to go now? Is it all clear?” Tragically things can change in an instant and even a text message is soon out of date. Another shooting. Another casualty. Another killing. Another grieving mother.
The mothers were speaking at the launch of a class action lawsuit brought by Gun Free South Africa and partners against the Minister of Police with the aim of:  Claiming for damages associated with deaths and injuries resulting from the actions of Christiaan Prinsloo for coordinating the sale of guns to gangs;  Addressing failures in the SAPS’ weapons and ammunition management system, which allowed Prinsloo and others to leak guns from police stores undetected, for years.
According to GFSA, in 2012, the South African Police Service began recovering an excessive number of guns on the Cape Flats that had been professionally ‘cleaned’ of identifying marks – proof that a sophisticated gun smuggling syndicate was at work. To track the supplier, two senior police officials, Major-Generals Peter Jacobs and Jeremy Vearey, registered Operation Impi in December 2013. Their investigation led to the arrest in 2015 of Christiaan Prinsloo, a Colonel in SAPS. Prinsloo confessed to his role in smuggling over 2 000 guns, that had been confiscated by, or surrendered to, the police for destruction, to gang leaders on the Cape Flats and entered a plea bargain with the State, providing detailed information on the syndicate in return for a lesser sentence. He was sentenced to 18 years but was released after serving less than four.
Operation Impi revealed that 888 of the guns stolen by Prinsloo were forensically linked to 1,066 murders in the Western Cape between February 2010 and 5 June 2016. 187 children between the ages of one and 17 years were shot and 63 killed with Prinsloo guns. [That is two Marikana Massacres – of children]. Of the 2,000+ Prinsloo smuggled guns (from which he earned R2million), 1,000 are still missing … still taking lives.
After Operation Impi received an affidavit in 2016 implicating the then President Zuma in state capture, Operation Impi was shut down and Jacobs and Vearey were demoted. A year later they challenged their demotion and won in the labour court.
You can find out more about the class action at email@example.com. If you or someone you know was shot, injured or killed from between 2010 till today please inform them or their families about this class action.
One of the mothers who spoke at the launch was Avril Andres from Hanover Park. Her son Alcardo was shot and killed in 2015. She is the founder of Moms Move for Justice. Hers, like so many, is a story of tragedy and incredible resilience. Please see her story here.
In grace, Alan