“Whether it’s licensed or not. That is why we want to get the firearms out of circulation in a way, ”Bheki Cele, police minister, told parliament on Wednesday when he asked the Portfolio Committee on Police for a new period for the firearm amnesty.
This is necessary because he believes the state of restriction has resulted in the police not being able to get the desired result with the recent amnesty period that ended on May 31.
Cele, Cassel Mathale, his deputy, and National Police Commissioner Khehla Sitole on Wednesday suggested that the new amnesty period run from August 1 this year to January 31 next year.
However, Tina Joemat-Pettersson, chair of the portfolio committee, said the committee could not approve the request Wednesday because it must first go through parliamentary processes before the committee can approve it. And they only got the notice about it Wednesday morning.
MPs also wanted Cele to know how many unlicensed firearms are in circulation in the country.
He said he did not have the exact figures, “but the police are working very hard to seize unlicensed firearms.
“Just last weekend we were in a shootout with one of the most notorious criminals in Diepsloot, Johannesburg. We found 11 firearms in his home.
“Similarly, we recently arrested 14 people in Estcourt, KwaZulu-Natal and seized nine firearms.”
He said police would not stop “hunting” unlicensed firearms.
Sitole said eight of the roughly 27,336 firearms filed during the amnesty period from December last year to May 31 have been positively linked to crimes and are under investigation.
According to a report by the police on Wednesday, it appears, among other things, that although a large number of licensed and unlicensed firearms were filed, there is a need for another amnesty period due to the state of restriction.
Most firearms also appear to have been lodged at police stations in Lyttelton, Wierda Bridge, Garsfontein and Booysens in Gauteng, Durbanville, Bellville and George in the Western Cape, and Hillcrest, Margate and Richards Bay in KwaZulu-Natal.
MPs have heard very few firearms have been filed in police areas such as Nyanga and Gugulethu in the Western Cape and others who are among the 30 top areas most affected by firearm-related crime.
Cele says this is another reason why police are asking for another amnesty period.
Dr. Pieter Groenewald, FF Plus leader, told the committee that the police had mentioned in the submission that an agreement had also been reached for a notification regarding competency certificates.
“The competency certificates are very important because the notice of the previous amnesty period rang if people can prove that they are the owner of a firearm, they can apply for a new firearm license.
“What happened in practice, however, is that people submitted their firearms, but when they wanted to apply for renewal of their licenses, they were asked for their certificate of competence.
“If this has also expired, applications for new firearm licenses have been refused. There was then an order that people could apply for both the firearm license and competency certificate at the same time.
He asked that it be included as a condition in the notification of the new amnesty period.