VOL. 13 (10) - 06-03-2017
OFFICIAL SAPS STANCE ON RENEWAL OF FIREARM LICENCES
On 3 March 2017 a circular was sent to all SAPS stations regarding the renewal of firearm licences. The content of that circular is quoted below so that our members can be aware of the official SAPS stance on renewal of firearm licences.
As always with SAPS communication regarding renewal of firearm licences, no mention is made of the validity of the so-called Green Licences.
We reiterate - Green licences are valid, as are the old licences pasted in Blue ID books and you are not illegally in possession of a firearm for which you hold such a licence. We again state: wait for the outcome of the SA Hunters court case re renewal of licences in April before you take any action regarding firearms for which you might have forgotten to renew the white card licence.
Please remember that an amnesty was announced from 1 April to 30 September 2017. As mentioned above, we again state; please wait until we know the content and context of the amnesty once we have seen the Governmanet Gazette and what that entails before you take any decisions regarding your firearm, which you did not renew.
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In terms of section 24 of the Firearms Control Act, 2000, a person who has been issued with a licence to possess a firearm, is obliged to renew this licence at least 90 days before its expiry date.
Section 27 of the Firearms Control Act, 2000, provides for the period of validity of each type of licence and permit that is issued. These dates are also reflected on the licence cards, as issued by the South African Police Service (SAPS). However, in terms of section 28 of the Firearms Control Act, 2000, a firearm licence terminates on the expiry of the relevant period contemplated in section 27 of the Firearms Control Act, 2000, unless it is renewed in terms of section 24 of the Firearms Control Act, 2000.
The firearm owner has the option of selling, donating or deactivating the firearm, which must be concluded before the relevant expiry date. If an application for the renewal has been lodged before the licence has expired, the existing licence remains valid until the application has been decided.
In a circular with reference number 27/5/2/1, dated 2016-02-03 (Renewal of firearm licences in terms of section 24 of the Firearms Control Act, 2000, the following directives were given:
"In the case where a person wants to renew or apply for a licence, but the validity of the licence has already expired, the person must be informed that he/she is not in lawful possession of the firearm anymore and that the firearm must be surrendered to the nearest police station.
When a firearm in respect of which the licence has expired, is voluntarily surrendered, the owner will not be prosecuted."
It is clear that provisions were made for persons who failed to renew their firearm licences, to voluntarily surrender these firearm(s) and/or ammunition to the nearest police station, following which prosecution will not be instituted against the person.
This position prevails and, therefore, persons who voluntarily surrender their firearms at police stations, must not be charged for the illegal possession thereof.
However, if a police official discovers during his or her day-to-day policing activities or operations that a person is in possession of a firearm, but failed to renew his or her licence, meaning that they did not apply for the renewal of the firearm licence, the police official may institute criminal proceedings against the person for the illegal possession of a firearm in terms of section 3 of the Firearms Control Act, 2000, as follows: ‘Section 3: No person may possess a firearm unless he or she holds a licence, permit or authorisation issued in terms of this Act for that firearm’.
The Registrar of Firearms (National Commissioner) is ultimately responsible for the implementation of the Firearms Control Act, 2000, which includes administrative steps that are reasonable, fair and lawful.
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Kind Regards, Natshoot Office