Put handing-in of firearms on ice, court asked
Pretoria - In light of the confusion among gun owners with expired firearm licenses and the apparent inability of the South African Police Services to deal with firearms handed in to them, the organisation Gun Owners of South Africa (GOSA) will ask that the process of the taking in of firearms with expired licenses, be stayed for now.
GOSA will on Tuesday (July 24) turn to the Gauteng High Court, Pretoria, for an urgent interim order against the police that they may not demand that gun owners with expired licenses immediately hand in their firearms. GOSA said the SAPS must also be provisionally interdicted from accepting any firearms with expired licenses at the various police stations.
They will ask for this interim order, pending a further application to be heard later in the year in which GOSA will ask that lisences issued in terms of the Firearms Control Act must be extended for a lifetime, alternatively for a certain period so that expired license holders could apply for its renewal.
GOSA will in the alternative also ask that SAPS Minister Bheki Cele provide a comprehensive security plan to the court to ensure that the firearms with expired licenses to be collected by the SAPS, will be safe from being lost or stolen.
The Constitutional Court last month ruled that all gun licenses must be renewed at least 90 days before the expiry of the license. National police spokesperson Vishnu Naidoo subsequently warned that those who had not renewed their firearms, had to immediately hand it in or they would be arrested.
Paul Oxley of GOSA said in papers before court that the police did not have the capacity to deal with these firearms and that GOSA and the SAPS legal team were still discussing the logistics.
He said this is also a matter of life and death for those individuals and security companies with expired licenses as the SAPS indicated that those firearms should be handed in for destruction.
“They will be unable to defend their lives or those of others under their protection, under these circumstances”
He said chaos is currently reigning regarding firearms for which licenses have expired and the public is desperately seeking answers and guidance. “Clarity is urgently needed from this court,” Oxley said.
According to him, draft directions with instructions to the public emanating from lower ranking SAPS members have surfaced in the media, without it being sanctioned by the minister. He said there is also no plan for the safekeeping of the hundreds of thousands of firearms said to be handed in and the estimated 60 million cartridges to go with it.
“The SAPS do not have the capacity to process and additional 450 000 firearms safely through the compulsory ballistic testing that needs to be conducted ..It will be years or decades even, before the processes are finalised….There is also no indication that the SAPS have the required safekeeping facilities.”
Oxley said misinformation is being spread as a result of the poor communication by the SAPS. According to him some SAPS officers are acting on a frolic of their own and they are contradicting the orders of the leadership of the SAPS.
He said the police are taking in firearms without a proper plan and the risk that these firearms can fall in the wrong hands, “as before and ever since” , is big.
Oxley said the sensible thing was to stay the taking in of firearms with expired licenses until the court had stepped in to pave the way forward.