The police say they have so far collected over 6000 firearms and more than 82 288 rounds of ammunition in an amnesty that started in January and runs until April 11.
“This number includes illegal firearms and ammunition voluntarily surrendered at police stations, licensed firearms and ammunition voluntarily surrendered at police stations and illegal firearms and ammunition confiscated during police operation,” the police ministry says in answer to a question by the Inkatha Freedom Party’s Velaphi Ndlovu.
The amnesty’s aim is:
- To allow for the surrender of illegal firearms under the amnesty.
- Simultaneous police operations to search for and seize illegal firearms.
- To advocate the voluntary surrender for destruction of licensed firearms through the process prescribed in the Act and the Firearms Control Regulations, 2004.
- To allow for people who missed the cut off date for licensing to license their firearms, ammunition and /or firearm parts in terms of the Act.
The police add it is “well aware” that criminals in possession of illegal firearms are unlike to make use of the amnesty process. “As part of the process of ridding the country of illegal firearms the amnesty process is accompanied by police operations aimed at recovering weapons from the hands of dangerous criminals who will not be making use of the provisions of the amnesty. During the first month of the amnesty 2352 illegal firearms and 41 916 rounds of ammunition were confiscated during such police operations.
The ministry adds that firearm owners who had failed to renew their firearm licences during the Transitional Provisions of the Firearms Control Act, 2000 (Act No. 60 of 2000) have an opportunity to apply for firearm licences during the declared amnesty. “I have afforded these owners the opportunity to comply with the requirements of the mentioned Act in order to legally possess their firearms under the requirements of the said Act,” minister Nathi Mthethwa added.
“These firearm owners are required to apply for their firearm licences at the relevant Designated Firearms Officers responsible for the area where the applicants ordinarily reside. It is not expected of these firearm owners to hand in their firearms to the South African Police Service whilst their applications are being processed. To date there are no known persons in this category who have handed in their firearms to the South African Police Service while their applications are in process.”