Police helping arm rhino owners
The SA Police Service is helping private owners of rhino obtain licences for semi-automatic rifles, Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa says.
This was among steps being taken by the SAPS to curb rhino poaching, he said in a written reply to a parliamentary question.
In recent months, poachers have been targeting rhino in private reserves, following more effective security being put in place in national parks.
The poachers are often armed with automatic rifles, such as AK-47s.
"The SA Police Service is assisting the private owners of rhino populations to obtain licences for semi-automatic rifles.
"There are requirements, processes and procedures that need to be fulfilled before one is deemed competent according to the Firearms Control Act," Mthethwa said.
An automatic rifle reloads itself and continues firing for as long as the trigger is pulled; a semi-automatic weapon reloads itself, but the trigger must be pulled for each shot.
Mthethwa gave no details on how many private owners and their employees were being issued with licences for semi-automatic rifles.
According to the act, any person can, for self defence, possess a semi-automatic rifle -- deemed a "restricted" weapon" -- provided he or she can provide proof that an ordinary firearm, such as a handgun, standard rifle or shotgun, "may not provide sufficient protection".