The raid came after the EFF leader Julius Malema’s bodyguard, Adriaan Snyman was caught on camera handing over what was believed to be a rifle to Malema at the EFF’s fifth birthday celebration in East London last month. Malema allegedly fired shots into the air with the rifle and later played down the incident when he said it was a “toy gun”.
Malema and his henchman now face arrest if police investigations confirm that the firebrand political leader had fired the gun.
Political leaders and gun rights activists have labelled Malema’s gunslinging “reckless” and have ratcheted up the calls for punitive action to be taken against both men.
Members of the Eastern Cape Provincial Detectives, and the Hawks in Durban, along with a tactical response team, swooped on Snyman’s Lighthouse Road, Bluff, property last Saturday.
His private security company, Tactical Security Services, is head-quartered at the property. Police seized 12 rifles, a source said, and they were sent for ballistics testing in Port Elizabeth.
It is believed that shells were gathered at the Sisa Dukashe Stadium in Mdantsane, the venue for the birthday bash. Police are trying to establish whether the shells matched the guns belonging to Snyman. A police source said Malema would be arrested if evidence proved he had fired the rifle.
Malema’s association with Snyman dates back to 2011, when the security company boss was seen at the side of the politician during his various appearances at the Gauteng High Court over his “Shoot the boer” hate speech utterances.
Black First Land First (BLF) has since laid charges against Snyman, claiming he was the one responsible for handing Malema the gun and should therefore be investigated and arrested for his actions.
Lobby group AfriForum had laid charges against Malema and said it had reported Snyman to the Private Security Regulatory Authority.
BLF deputy president Zanele Lwana said that, without Snyman, Malema would not have had access to the rifle. “The rifle was real and was used in a very reckless manner. Snyman must be fully investigated for the negligent use of a firearm. Police need to ensure they check that every firearm found on his property is properly licensed. He has endangered the lives of people who attended the celebration.”
AfriForum spokesperson Natasha Venter said the organisation had laid charges which include shooting a firearm in a built-up or public area without sufficient reason; the possession of a firearm and ammunition without the necessary licence and authority; and directing a firearm or object that can be concluded to be a firearm at a person without sufficient reason.
“Malema again confirms that his modus operandi involves acting blatantly and without respect for any legislation or judicial authority. As leader of a political party, this behaviour is reckless, seeing as his supporters can possibly emulate his conduct and contempt for the law. His behaviour comes down to the blatant incitement of people and cannot pass unpunished.”
However, Snyman said he knew nothing about the raid, despite sources in the police confirming he had been on the property for the duration of the seizure operation.
When asked if he was aware of the charges laid against him by BLF and the complaint by AfriForum, he said: “I do not follow idiots.”
Adele Kirsten, a director at Gun Free SA, said the law was clear that an individual may not lend a rifle that is licensed in his or her name to someone else. She said Malema’s actions would send out the wrong message to young men.
“Given the high level of violence in South Africa, it is shameful for a popular, strong leader to display reckless behaviour with a weapon that has the potential to endanger the life of himself and others.”
She said Malema represented a young, black, successful man and the message that he had sent out was unacceptable.
“He is depicting that it is acceptable for young men with power to behave in a violent manner. Political leaders have an important role to play and should not be sending out such a message.”
Hawks spokesperson Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi said a multi-disciplinary team had been tasked to look into the matter and the Hawks had been requested to assist. EFF national spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlozi said the matter was before the police and would not comment further.