The civil rights organisation AfriForum took note of the comments made by Bheki Cele, Minister of Police, on 14 January 2020 in Johannesburg. Cele once more iterated his desire to disarm legal firearm owners and to prevent individuals from owning firearms at all. He argued that this would contribute to everyone’s safety. He also emphasised that the SAPS is unable to fulfil its mandate and that it would only be able to perform inspections and track firearms efficiently if individuals were allowed to own just a single firearm.
“Cele is once again trying to limit the freedom of others while his own house is not in order. Only recently Cele himself answered parliamentary questions and acknowledged that 500 service pistols were “lost” by SAPS officials (who are allowed to take their firearm home) over the past three financial years. An additional 10 765 rounds of ammunition were also lost by officials while off duty. This – whether in addition to or as part of the 9,5 million rounds of ammunition and 4 357 firearms otherwise lost by the SAPS over the past six financial years – indicates a massive problem,” says Ian Cameron, Head of Community Safety at AfriForum.
Although Cele acknowledged the need for stricter border policing to prevent firearms from being smuggled into South Africa, it is no secret that most of South Africa’s borders are extremely porous and, in many places, physically non-existent. The recent theft of nineteen R4 rifles from a military base clearly proves that the other statutory body tasked with protecting the country’s borders cannot even protect and keep its own firearms safe. It is highly probable that the “lost” firearms are already in the hands of criminals. It seems like the Minister chooses to overlook this fact and continues on his crusade to disarm citizens regardless of the above.
“The Minister is once again hiding the incompetence of his department and the SAPS by limiting the freedom of individual South Africans. Rather than focussing on strengthening the SAPS so that it can fulfil its mandate, Cele takes the easy way out by trying to limit its workload to the detriment of law-abiding South Africans faced with rampant crime,” says Marnus Kamfer, Legal and Risk Manager at AfriForum.
AfriForum will continue to monitor any proposals with regards to firearm ownership or proposed amendments to the Firearms Control Act 60 of 2000. Should such be published, AfriForum will provide the necessary commentary and take any steps in an effort to block any changes that will affect South Africans negatively.