PROVINCIAL police have jumped the gun in denying, before an audit report has been completed, that firearms were stolen from the forensic laboratory.
This comes after the police forensic unit, based in the Eben Donges building, North End, was hit by five armed men who tied up the on-site security guards and raided the laboratory.
The robbers spent more than three hours inside the building and used an angle grinder to open the safe, after which they made off with “a big bag”.
Provincial police spokesman Brigadier Marinda Mills yesterday addressed the media and denied that firearms had been stolen. However, after a brief conversation with The Herald, she admitted to not yet having received the final audit report from the laboratory.
“I know that no firearms were taken,” she insisted.
But at least four police officials have told The Herald the unit stored both confiscated and police weapons, with one source describing the laboratory as a “mini-arsenal”.
Police dockets, forensic evidence and drugs were also taken during the raid, they said.
Mills dismissed these claims yesterday, saying that they were “absolute rubbish”.
However, she could still not present proof as to what was stored in the safe on the night of the robbery, and what was missing. And, in an e-mail to The Herald, Mills later stated that “the (CCTV) footage clearly indicates the robbers walking away with a big bag”.
“We are completing an audit at the lab . . . but there is no expectation whatsoever that it will reveal large numbers of firearms were taken.”
Mills refused to let The Herald team visit the scene and view reports of what had been taken.
Despite denying that guns had been stolen, many court cases were postponed yesterday after detectives were ordered by senior officials to track down the robbers who had stolen the guns. Police informers were also summoned in an attempt by police to gather information on the whereabouts of the firearms.
All police stations have been put on high alert as the manhunt continues.
DA safety and security spokesman Bobby Stevenson described the robbery as “unbelievable” and a “tragedy of mammoth proportions”.
“There needs to be a full investigation into the reasons for this security fiasco and those responsible must be fully disciplined,” he said.
“When criminals become so brazen that police start becoming the victims of crime, then safety and security has surely reached an all-time low.”
In 2010, a North West police station was also hit by armed robbers who made off with countless weapons.