Amnesty will not remove guns from criminals, FF+ claims

29 November 2019 - 06:30 By Ernest Mabuza
The Freedom Front Plus has criticised a six-month firearm amnesty.
The Freedom Front Plus has criticised a six-month firearm amnesty.
Image: 123RF/Roger Lamkin

The Freedom Front Plus said the announcement of a six-month firearm amnesty period for firearms to be turned in to the police without penalties was misleading and ludicrous.

Police minister Bheki Cele on Thursday called on those in possession of unlicensed firearms to make use of the amnesty period, which starts on December 1.

The FF+ said that although the purpose of the amnesty was to decrease the number of illegal firearms in the hands of criminals, the reality was that criminals would not turn in their weapons.

The party said this was because the law determined that all firearms that were handed over must undergo ballistic testing and that if the firearm was used to commit a crime, prosecution would follow.

“As a result, only law-abiding firearm owners whose firearms are 'illegal' due to some or other technical reason in terms of the law, will hand in their firearms,” the party said in a statement.

The FF+ claimed that during the previous two amnesty periods, in 2005 and 2010, not a single firearm that was used to commit a crime was turned in.

“That serves as proof that criminals will not hand over their firearms and incriminate themselves in the process.”

The party also said the notice that was published in the Government Gazette was misleading.

It said there was a stipulation that one may hand in a firearm while simultaneously applying for the firearm to be relicensed.

The FF+ said the condition, however, was that one must be able to show that they were indeed the legal owner of the firearm in the first place.

“That means that the purpose of the amnesty is actually to target firearm owners whose licences have expired and who did not apply for renewal in time.”

The party said Cele also signed the notice on August 28, which was before the parliamentary portfolio committee for police even had the opportunity to approve it.

“It is, thus, an outdated notice and in the FF Plus’s opinion, it is illegal,” the party said.

The party said firearm owners whose licences have expired must not be misled by the amnesty notice as they will not be able to simply apply for a renewal of their licences, but will have to go through the entire process that one has to follow for a new firearm.

“There is also the court ruling of Gosa [Gun Owners of SA] which still stands and that determines that a firearm may be kept legally even though its licence has expired.

“This court ruling remains valid until the police asks for it to be reviewed.”