Gun Free SA welcomes withdrawal of court bid to halt national firearm amnesty
NGO Gun Free SA has welcomed a National Hunting and Shooting Association (NHSA) decision to withdraw an urgent court application to compel the Minister of Police to stop the 2020 national firearm amnesty.
According to organisation, court papers which Police Minister Bheki Cele filed in response to the NHSA's papers, "debunked and corrected a range of myths that were brought by the association".
These included claims that Cele had not followed the correct process when declaring the 2020 firearms amnesty, making it illegal.
The firearm amnesty period started on December 1, 2019 and runs until the end of May.
The minister argued that the NHSA's argument was "fatally flawed" and that the process authorities followed for the amnesty was valid and effective.
The NHSA also claimed that the 2020 amnesty period impinged on the rights of gun owners whose licences expired, by requiring them to hand in their guns while they reapplied for a licence.
However, Cele responded that expired licences could not be renewed and that the Firearms Control Act was clear that, when a firearm licence expired, it no longer existed, meaning that it could not be renewed.
The minister also argued that the law would need to be amended for expired licences to be renewed under amnesty.
He argued that he had no powers to amend legislation and that it was up to Parliament to do so.
Gun Free SA has called on all gun owners to hand in their guns during the amnesty period.
"South Africa's experience of holding amnesties confirms they are effective at recovering guns, including unwanted, unlawful and illegal guns," Gun Free SA director, Adèle Kirsten said.
The organisation said more than 120 000 firearms and 1.8 million rounds of ammunition were recovered in SA's past three amnesties in 1994, 2005 and 2010.
Kirsten said civilians were the biggest source of illegal guns in the country , when their weapons were lost or stolen.
He said Cele's answering affidavit in the urgent application showed that in 2018/19, 9 609 firearms were reported lost or stolen nationally and 607 of them were owned by the police.
The rest were from civilians.