AfriForum on 12 December 2019 directed a letter to Bheki Cele, Minister of Police, and Khehla Sithole, National Police Commissioner, and formulated questions regarding the firearm amnesty introduced.
This amnesty was announced in the Government Gazette on 27 November 2019 and involves, among others, that people in the possession of an illegal firearm can hand in such firearm at any police station in South Africa without being prosecuted therefore. The amnesty period stretches from 1 December 2019 to 31 May 2020.
AfriForum demands, among others, answers on the safe storage of the firearms while in the possession of the SAPS, if there is sufficient and competent capacity to execute the process, as well as answers regarding general aspects of the process.
This amnesty, which was preceded without a real consultation process, leaves a bad taste in the mouths of firearm owners who didn’t renew their firearm licences in time. Despite an interim court order that confirms that firearm owners with expired licences are still legally in possession of their firearms, the courts haven’t yet given final clarity. Many regard this amnesty period as a premature manner to disarm citizens and expose them to the seemingly unstoppable crime flurry harassing the country.
“Citizens have increasingly started becoming more prepared due to the SAPS’s lack of ability to successfully battle crime. They also became involved in safety structures and implemented contingency plans to protect their families and themselves. The effective, legal and responsible use of a firearm is of great importance in communities to protect themselves. Cele’s actions to follow the amnesty route in this manner points to a political agenda and focuses on areas that are not promoting the battle against crime,” says Marnus Kamfer, AfriForum’s Legal and Risk Manager for community safety.
AfriForum will, depending on the answers of Cele and Sithole, consider all further options to ensure that the amnesty process does not unnecessarily put the safety of communities in jeopardy.