Police have done little to publicise, encourage public to take advantage of six-month amnesty – Gun Free SA
By Sakhile Ndlazi 11m ago
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Pretoria – With only days until the firearm amnesty period officially ends, Gun Free SA believes SAPS and all relevant stakeholders have dragged their feet to ensure compliance.
According to the organisation, neither the police nor gun owners have acted expediently on the amnesty.
The organisation said the police had done very little to publicise and encourage the public to take advantage of the six-month amnesty, which started last August.
“Even the initial commitment made by the Minister of Police (Bheki Cele) to report monthly on gun hand-ins as a way of building public trust in the police has been ignored, despite repeated requests by Gun Free SA to give updates,” it said.
“Under the amnesty, gun owners in unlawful possession can apply for amnesty from prosecution by handing their firearms in to the police, either for destruction or while they apply for a new firearm licence (as an expired licence cannot be renewed.”
As of January 13 about 23 300 firearms had been handed in during the 2020-21 firearms amnesty. While the majority of these (20 260) are guns with expired licenses, this is just 5% of about 450 000 firearms for which licences have expired.
In its judgment, the Supreme Court of Appeal warned that “there is a real risk that some or many of these firearms, which are now illegally in the possession of their owners, may be stolen or lost and end up in the hands of criminals who may injure or kill others”.
Latest crime statistics show that civilians are the largest source of illegal guns in South Africa, reporting the loss or theft of 8 007 guns in 2019-20, an average of 24 guns a day (police reported losing 2 a day in this time).
“SAPS and gun owners are failing South Africa by not supporting the 2020-21 amnesty. We call on both to aim for safety in the last few days of the amnesty: The SAPS must advertise and mobilise gun owners to hand their guns in, and gun owners must do the right thing and comply with the law by handing unwanted, unlawful and illegal guns in to the police, either for destruction or while applying for a new licence,” it said.
Meanwhile, Moot police spokesperson Captain Anton Breedt said from 8am to 8pm on Saturday and Sunday, people wishing to apply would be assisted.