The theft of arms and ammunition from Naval Base Simon’s Town last July has had a court sequel with one of three accused pleading guilty and sentenced to an effective six and a half years in prison.
Eyewitness News this week reported Duncan Gouvias (21) was sentenced in the Wynberg Regional Court for his part in the theft. According to the radio newswire he pleaded guilty and was sentenced to a total of 43 years imprisonment. The sentences are for charges of housebreaking, theft and the unlawful possession of prohibited firearms, ammunition and explosives will run concurrently and he is expected to spend six and a half years behind bars.
Co-accused Dilian Sewkumar (18) and Karabo Ramokgopa, also 18, are expected to plead next month. Sewkumar is still in custody and Ramokgopa, reportedly studying to be an electrical engineer, is under house arrest. A Cape Town daily newspaper reported last year that the fathers of all three accused are SA Navy members.
They were charged following the theft of arms and ammunition, including hand grenades, assault rifles and sub-machineguns from the armoury at Naval Base Simon’s Town on 23 July. They were arrested a week after the theft was discovered during an intelligence driven investigation led by the Hawks and military police.
Former SA National Defence Force (SANDF) corporate communications director, Brigadier General Xolani Mabanga said everything stolen from the armoury at the SA Navy fleet headquarters was recovered during the investigation. He did not give details but Afrikaans weekly Rapport said four Uzi submachineguns, four R1 assault rifles, an M1 machinegun, 16 ship’s cannon munitions, 72 hand grenades and a pair of mine detonators were found on a smallholding outside Eersterivier during the investigation.
Democratic Alliance Western Cape chief whip, Mark Wiley, said after the theft was discovered it could have been prevented had naval authorities done their duty when they had earlier been warned of a climate of lawlessness and decay taking hold in parts of the base.
“This can potentially contaminate the very institution of the Navy, whose primary mission is to protect the country’s coastal sovereignty,” he said soon after the theft became public.