Cop implicated in gun licence ‘scam’
Johannesburg - A senior policeman has resigned from his post amid an investigation into allegations that he issued temporary gun licences to a Joburg businessman in exchange for cash.
A case of corruption was opened against Brigadier Steven Choshi, the acting station commander at the Roodepoort police station, by forensic investigator Paul O’Sullivan.
According to O’Sullivan, the brigadier worked at the central firearms registry until February 2011, before being moved to the Roodepoort police station.
O’Sullivan alleges that, despite this, Choshi continued to issue section 21 firearm permits.
This permit is meant to last only a year and is meant for emergencies only. In that time, a permanent gun licence should be obtained.
In his affidavit, O’Sullivan calls on the police to launch “a high-level investigation into the patently corrupt relationship between Brigadier Steven Choshi and the criminals he has unlawfully armed, in order that they might continue to commit crime, such as murder and robbery”.
According to O’Sullivan, multimillionaire Zunaid Moti, through his business associate Hussen Mohamed, paid Choshi at least R10 000 to supply him with section 21 permits.
The alleged pay-off was discovered when Mohamed and his twin brother Hoosein were arrested in May last year in connection with a separate case.
At the time, the brothers’ cellphones were seized and forensically analysed.
Through this analysis, SMSes to Mohamed’s phone from a contact he called “brigadeer (sic)”, giving a bank account number of a woman to where money was to be transferred to, were discovered.
One of the SMSes read: “Still there is nothing, can’t you assist quickly need to leave to Polokwane to see my sick mother at hospital pls!”
A few hours later there is a message of thanks, telling the recipient he can deposit the rest of the money.
The number from which the SMSes were sent link back to an official police cellphone that was being used by Choshi.
The police docket, which The Star has seen, includes four Section 21 permits assigned to Moti and signed by Choshi many months after he left his post at the Central Firearms Registry.
It is alleged that the money paid to Choshi was in exchange for these permits.
When Hussen was contacted for comment on the allegations, he put down the phone.
Choshi told The Star he was not aware of any investigation against him and denied any wrongdoing.
“Nobody told me about this. I resigned because I want to explore business interests,” Choshi told The Star.
Moti also denied the allegations. “This is utter nonsense. It’s another Paul O’Sullivan allegation. The Hawks of Gauteng are investigating the issue,” Moti said.
He added that he followed correct procedures to get his firearm licences and had three firearms because he is a collector and hunter.
Last year, O’Sullivan was employed by a Brits-based grocery store owner, Naeem Cassim, to assist in the prosecution of Moti, who he (Cassim) accused of attempted murder. In November, the case against Moti was struck off the court roll.
Brigadier Neville Malila confirmed that Choshi had resigned from the police service at the end of November.
“This office can confirm that there are currently criminal investigations pending which will continue irrespective of the fact that the member has resigned,” Malila said.
O’Sullivan said he had opened a docket against Choshi because there was evidence of corruption against him.
“I’m very disappointed that yet another police officer of high rank has seen fit to bring himself and the service into disrepute,” said O’Sullivan.
The procedure to get firearm document
To obtain a firearm licence, you must get a competency certificate and apply for a firearm licence at the nearest police station. The competency certificate is a new aspect of firearm licensing in South Africa. This training must be completed at an accredited training provider. Details of accredited training providers will be available at police stations.
To get a competency certificate, the applicant:
l Must be 21 years old, unless there are convincing reasons requiring the applicant to get a competency certificate or firearm licence.
l Must be a South African citizen or permanent residence permit holder.
l Must pass a thorough background check.
l Must be mentally stable and fit.
l Must not be addicted to any intoxicating or narcotic substances.
l Must not have a criminal record inside or outside of South Africa.
l Must know how to use a firearm (the applicant must have successfully completed a basic training course at an accredited training institution).
Once you have obtained your competency certificate, you can apply for a firearm licence corresponding to the type of firearm competency you have obtained.
If you have a valid competency certificate, you can then apply for the firearm licence at your nearest police station. If successful, licences must be renewed every five years for business purposes, five years for self-defence, or 10 years for hunting or sport-related shooting.