Assault rifle seized from students 'closely resembles SADF's R4'

18 March 2021 - 15:35 By ernest mabuza
The Galil assault rifle seized from two students in Auckland Park on Wednesday. A gun shop owner says it closely resembles the R4, which was standard issue in the SA Defence Force in the 1980s.
The Galil assault rifle seized from two students in Auckland Park on Wednesday. A gun shop owner says it closely resembles the R4, which was standard issue in the SA Defence Force in the 1980s.
Image: SAPS

The Galil assault rifle that the police said it confiscated from students in Braamfontein is a weapon Denel copied when it developed its R4 rifle in 1980 for use by the South African Defence Force.

This is according to a gun store owner in Roodepoort, who asked for his name not to be used. The store sells a variant of the Galil rifle. He said the Galil was a military assault rifle.

“If you know the R4 assault rifle, it is the same as the Galil,” he said.

On closer inspection of the photo provided by the police, the shop owner was adamant this was an R4 issued to either the SA Police or the SA Defence Force (now the SANDF). 

The Galil is the Israeli assault rifle that the South African Vektor R4 is heavily based on, with a few small modifications.

However, another shop owner, who looked at the same picture and who also did not want to be named, said it was a Galil rifle, not an R4. He pointed out a selector switch which was not written in English which, he said, showed it was not an R4.

He added that there appeared to also be an Israel Defence Force badge on the rifle, which again indicated to him it was not an R4.

The police arrested two students who were allegedly part of ongoing fees protests in Braamfontein, Johannesburg, on Wednesday for being in possession of the illegal high-calibre rifle. Police spokesperson Brig Mathapelo Peters said the confiscated rifle was an automatic.

The store owner said it was possible to get a licence for the semi-automatic rifle that the company sells. He said the Galil semi-automatic rifle he sells was the same as a pistol — it fires one shot every time the trigger is pulled, unlike an automatic rifle which fires continually until the trigger is released.

It has a shooting range of 300m.

He said the firearm was suitable for armed security work, particularly in rural or harsh environments, like anti-poaching work. He said it was also suitable for self-defence in secluded areas such as farms.

Peters confirmed that both of those arrested for possession of the weapon were students. She said the male student was 24 and studied at an institution which the police were not at liberty to divulge. Peters said the female was 21. “She is a student from Cape Town who was allegedly visiting,” she said.

Peters said they were likely to appear in court on Friday.

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