AfriForum welcomes the new firearm amnesty period that was approved by the National Assembly on 30 July 2020. The new amnesty will be in place from 1 August 2020 to 31 January 2021.
During the lockdown AfriForum and its legal team put continuous pressure on Bheki Cele, Minister of Police, and Genl. Khehla Sitole, National Police Commissioner, about the amnesty period. AfriForum was especially concerned about the fact that firearm owners couldn’t make use of the amnesty under Level 5 of the lockdown, as lockdown regulations stipulated it wasn’t essential to visit police stations for this purpose. The minister’s office however replied to AfriForum’s letters and confirmed that approaching parliament over a further amnesty period was being considered.
An interim court order which offered protection to licence holders in possession of firearms of which the licences (as issued in terms of the Firearms Control Act 60 of 2000) have expired, was set aside on 23 July 2020. This means that thousands of people are currently in possession of unlicensed firearms – which is a crime and punishable with a possible sentence of 15 years in prison should they be found guilty.
“Firearm owners in possession of an expired “white” licence card should seriously consider making use of the amnesty period to be in legal possession of their firearms again. During this period, firearm owners have the opportunity to hand in weapons of which the licences have expired at their nearest police station, after which they can start the process of applying for a weapon’s licence from scratch,” says Marnus Kamfer, AfriForum’s Legal and Risk Manager for Community Safety.
“We understand that people who find themselves in this situation are hesitant to hand over their weapons to the police and go through the trouble of re-applying for their licences. However, we encourage them to seek expert help and see the process through to the end to ensure they are able to defend themselves and their families within the framework of the law. AfriForum will continue to explore ways of assisting firearm owners,” concludes Kamfer.