Hon Deputy Chairperson, the control of firearms has been a contentious issue in South Africa, and with the inception of the Firearms Control Act 2000 in 2003, it promised an effective way of firearm control administered by the South African Police Service, SAPS. The Central Firearm Register, CFR, was established to process and monitor firearm ownership through applications and renewals.
Section 139(1) of the Firearms Control Act provides that the Minister of Police may, by notice in the Gazette, declare an amnesty if the amnesty may result in the reduction of the number of illegally possessed firearms in South Africa and it is in the public interest to do so.
Section 139(2) of the Act also provides that such amnesty will only be valid if it is approved by Parliament. In terms of section 138 of the Firearms Control Act, "amnesty" means an indemnity against prosecution for the unlawful possession of a firearm and ammunition.
The firearms amnesty is an important process as it has the potential to decrease the number of illegal firearms in South Africa, particularly in light of our fight against crime and our objective of halving crime by 2030 - this amnesty process is important.
However, in order to effectively receive the firearms and to ensure a successful amnesty, the select committee had to ensure that SAPS was ready in respect of their planning, implementation and particularly in ensuring that provincial police stations have received adequate training.
The select committee met on 11 September 2019 and received a briefing from the South African Police Service on the amnesty. The select committee raised a number of concerns related to the safe keeping of surrendered firearms and ammunition, police procedure to destroy surrendered firearms and ammunition as well as concerns with the process for citizens in legal possession of licences that expired.
The committee therefore required the assurance from SAPS that the conditions which affect the success of an amnesty were indeed complied with and that public trust was restored in SAPS.
Deputy Chair, SAPS is required to respond to the select committee on the matters raised, and on the meeting of the select committee on 30 October 2019, a further briefing from SAPS on the outstanding matters was received. The committee noted with concern the infrastructural challenges faced by SAPS in respect of their Central
Firearms Registry and the committee requested that SAPS addresses this challenge as expeditiously as possible.
The committee further reiterated that SAPS should ensure that all provinces are suitably trained and that the designated firearms officers are vetted accordingly. The committee, however, recognises the importance of the recovery of illegal firearms and the potential impact it may have on the reduction of violence and crime in South Africa.
The committee was therefore pleased to note that during the 2010 amnesty which ran for a period of three months, SAPS reported that it had received a total of 11 887 illegal firearms and a total of 139 234 rounds of ammunition. We therefore recognise that the amnesty will play an important role in the recovery and destruction of illegal firearms and that other measures undertaken by SAPS such as roadblocks, searches and raids will assist in reducing violence and fighting crime in South Africa.
The select committee, after satisfying itself on the readiness of SAPS for the amnesty, and after due consideration, approved the Minister's request for an amnesty period from 1 December 2019 to 31
May 2020 and recommends that the National Council of Provinces adopts the report and approves the amnesty.
The committee also requested the Minister of Police to consider declaring a separate process for the renewal of expired licenses that should run concurrently to the amnesty period. I thank you. [Applause.]
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