VOL. 15 (30) - 09-12-2019
URGENT COURT APPLICATION TO HAVE CURRENT FIREARMS AMNESTY DECLARED INVALID
1. NHSA has decided to bring an urgent application in the High Court to have the current firearms amnesty declared invalid. Court papers will be filed this morning.
2. We have appointed a senior and junior counsel to work with our legal team. It is a big task and the application will be set down for hearing as soon as possible.
3. The basis of the application is that SAPS have mislead the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Police as well as Parliament to believe that firearms with expired white licenses are not the principle “target” of the current amnesty.
4. From remarks made by the Minister of Police, Genl. Cele, during the launch of the amnesty, and relevant recent directives issued by SAPS top-management on the amnesty, it is clear that the true focus of the amnesty is on disarming owners of the approximately 450 000 firearms with expired white licences (because the licences were not renewed in time). It is a requirement that firearm owners with lapsed licences, who want to take part in the amnesty and who want to apply for "new licences" under the amnesty, will have to surrender such firearms to SAPS pending the consideration of such applications.
5. It is our view that the amnesty, which provides for the handing in of illegal firearms, is being abused by the Minister of Police and by SAPS. SAPS admitted that of the 122,783 firearms surrendered under the 2005 amnesty (80,454 firearms) and the 2010 amnesty (42,329 firearms), not one firearm could be linked to a crime after ballistic testing. This clearly shows that real criminals don’t surrender the really illegal firearms during periods of amnesty. If we continue with these abused processes for amnesty, which are clearly focussed on disarming legal firearm owners, only criminals will eventually have firearms.
6. Genl. Cele also recently made the statements that: “Firearms are the public’s enemy” and “It will be best if only SAPS have firearms”. We believe that illegal firearms in the hands of criminals are really the public's biggest enemy and that law-abiding citizens have the right to own firearms to defend themselves. Especially in a country where no one’s safety can be guaranteed by SAPS. There is no reason to restrict hunting- or sport shooting firearms, because they are not used in perpetrating violent crimes.
7. It is also clear that the public have lost their confidence in the ability of SAPS to safekeep firearms as well as in SAPS' ability to administer the “new licensing" process under the amnesty in a fair and efficient manner. SAPS have admitted that over the past few years they have “lost” more than 7 000 firearms (4 357 firearms over five years up to 2018, 500 firearms in 2019 plus the approximately 2 400 firearms sold out of SAPS-13 stores by a former SAPS Col. to criminals in the Cape). In addition, SAPS have "lost" an admitted 9,3 million rounds of ammunition (3,2 million in Eastern Cape in one year)! All of these "lost" firearms and rounds of ammunition are certainly in the hands of criminals.
8. In addition to the fact that there are a number of police stations being guarded by private security companies for SAPS' safety, SAPS disclosed to the Parliamentary Committee on Police that they have also excluded 46 police stations (out of approximately 1 000) from taking in firearms during the amnesty because they cannot be trusted to keep firearms safe. How these facts should give the public confidence in the ability of SAPS to safeguard firearms handed in under the current amnesty, remains an open question.
9. We foresee that SAPS will, as part of the amnesty, threaten firearm owners with arrest and prosecution if they don’t take part in the amnesty, purportedly to obtain "new licenses" in respect of their firearms with expired licenses.
10. In the given circumstances, we believe the implementation of the current amnesty to be unfair and based on half-truths and in some instances outright lies. We also believe it is dishonourable for SAPS to treat law-abiding citizens as if they are criminals. Section 28 (6) of the FCA provides that the Registrar may extend time periods for renewal of licences. Yet, instead of assisting the law-abiding citizen through section 28 (6), SAPS want to make out that owners of firearms with expired licences are actually criminals.
11. SAPS have actually threatened with arrests and prosecution of those with expired licences who do not take part in the amnesty. Genl. Cele on 28-11-2019 said that SAPS will “go from house to house if we have to” after the amnesty to “collect” those firearms with expired licences – irrespective of the interim interdict in the GOSA case of 2018 which specifically stops them from doing just that.
12. In the court case, the validity of the declaration of the amnesty will also be attacked on the basis that the notice, which was published in the Government Gazette of 27-11-2019, had not been presented to Parliament, as required by section 139(2)(a) of the FCA.
13. Although SAPS have stated and convinced Parliament that the amnesty will be in the public’s best interest, it has been declared without any consultation with the public or with stakeholders (public groups with firearms interest). It is clear that the amnesty’s sole purpose is to disown 450 000 firearms by frustrating owners with poor service and impractical administrative arrangements so that they do not apply for "new licenses".
14. We advise our members to rather wait before handing in any firearms under the amnesty until the court has ruled on the validity thereof. We shall keep members posted on developments in this regard. The court's decision is expecte soon after hearing on 17 December 2019.
15. We shall also use the court process to ensure that there is proper public participation before another attempt is made to disarm you through anoter amnesty.
16. As a responsible firearms owners’ association, NHSA would want to avoid civil disobedience in respect of the legal ownership of firearms. We are striving to achieve a relationship with the Police in terms of which they understand and honour firearm owners’ rights. NHSA has been doing that for the past 15 years.
17. Also remember that SAPS intend to amendment the FCA in 2020 to provide that self-defence will not be an acceptable reason for owning a firearm. We believe that such an amendment to the FCA will be a serious infringement on citizens’ rights to self-protection in a country where violent crime is unacceptably high. Specifically, because SAPS seem not to be able to execute their mandate to protect the citizens of South Africa. We can only say: ”Genl. Cele, it is your job to protect us; do not deliver us to evil”.
18. We emphasize that firearms are also being used legitimately in hunting and sports shooting. There is absolutely no reason to confiscate self-defence-, hunting- or sport shooting firearms only to satisfy the half-truths and “spin” of Gun Free South Africa. These firearms are not the illegal firearms criminals use to take the valuable lives of our loved ones.
19. Members are requested to notify the office by Email of their personal experiences with SAPS in the implementation of the amnesty, if they decide to "participate" in it. Please use the address - [email protected]
20. Be assured that we shall continue to protect our members’ rights to legally own firearms.
Dr Herman Els (Executive Chair)
All members informed of the posting of this Newsletter on 09-12-2019 at 10:00 via Email.