NHSA APPLICATION TO BECOME A FRIEND OF THE COURT (AMICUS CURIAE) IN THE MATTER OF THE MINISTER OF POLICE VS FIDELITY SECURITY SERVICES.
Date: Vol 17-39
SAPS APPLICATION FOR LEAVE TO APPEAL TO BE HEARD IN CONSTITUTIONAL COURT ON 18 NOVEMBER 2021.
History. The history of the matter is briefly that Fidelity Security Services failed to renew 700 of their firearms timeously, due to illness of the person responsible, with the result that the licences terminated.
Fidelity requested the Police to allow them to submit renewal applications for licences for the firearms, but the Police refused to accept such applications.
Fidelity approached the North Gauteng High Court for an order to allow them to submit renewal applications for licences for the firearms. Judge Ranchod refused the application.
Fidelity then appealed to the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA). The SCA on 22 April 2021, ruled that Fidelity would be allowed to submit new applications in respect of the firearms of which the licences had terminated and ordered the Police to accept those applications.
The Minister of Police then made an application to the Constitutional Court for leave to appeal against the judgment and the matter has been set down for hearing on 18 November 2021.
Importance of the matter. The matter is of great importance to all firearm owners whose firearm licences have expired. In contradiction of the SCA judgement, the Police’s interpretation of the law is that once the firearm licence had expired, it cannot be disposed of, the licence cannot be renewed, and a new application for a firearm can also not be made. According to the Police, the only solution to the problem is that firearms must be surrendered to them for destruction.
Extent of problem. Before that firearm amnesty was declared in December 2019, the Police informed parliament that there were (at that stage) 400 805 firearms with expired licences in South Africa. During the two amnesties that followed, 126 000 firearms were surrendered to the Police and 105 000 applications for new licences were received in respect of those firearms.
On the available information, there are at present between 275 000 and 325 000 firearms of which the licences had expired, still in the owners’ possession. The problem before the court therefore affects many more firearm owners than just Fidelity Security Services.
Application to apply to be admitted as amici curiae. Natshoot and PHASA have decided to bring an application to be admitted as friends of the court to assist the court to come to a just decision. PHASA also makes the point that the Police’s interpretation affects professional hunters’ rights in terms of section 22 of the Constitution.
Natshoot and PHASA brought such applications and submitted heads of argument in respect of the proposed interpretation of the act and solutions to the problem.
Unfortunately, the Registrar of the Constitutional Court did not allow friends of the court to make oral representations.
We are, however, confident that the documentation put in front of the court by Adv Henry Cowley and Mr Juan Kotzé in name of Natshoot & PHASA will make a difference in how the honourable judges interpret the case in front of them on the day.
The documents handed in with the Constitutional Court can be downloaded below:
Present situation. The Constitutional Court will decide on 18 November 2021 whether Natshoot and PHASA will be allowed to join the proceedings as friends of the court. We shall provide you with a link to the proceedings as soon as we receive it.
Members who have firearms in their possession of which the licence(s) had terminated, can on own cognisance wait the outcome of the ConCourt decision on the above-mentioned case (could take as long as 8 weeks). There might be a slim hope that the ConCourt could decide in Fidelity's favour, which would mean that members with lapsed licences will be able to re-apply for new licences for those firearms. But that is a decision you as an affected member must take on your own. This indication cannot be understood to be official Natshoot advice on the matter.
Undertaking. Natshoot will continue to protect firearms owner’s rights and interests and thank all members for their continued support.
Dr Herman Els