The number of approved firearm licence applications is progressing steadily but much still needs to be done to ensure that legal firearms remain in the hands of responsible, compliant and law-abiding citizens. This is the view of the Minister of Police Nathi Mthethwa in a reply to a parliamentary question on how many applications have been approved since the turnaround strategy as announced in November last year.
“The total number of approved firearm licence applications from October 1, 2010 to April 18, 2011 is 46 374.” In addition 39 851 licences were rejected I the same period. “Amongst the reasons for refusal are people who might have been previously convicted and having criminal records or those who do not meet the requirements of the Firearm Control Act. I have also tasked the Secretariat for Police to relook at reasons for each refusal so that emphasis and focus is not only on meeting deadlines but ensure compliance with the Act,” stated the minister.
Mthethwa attributed this progress to an intervention task team that was announced last year to look at some of the challenges and backlogs within the Central Firearms Registry. He said this team comprised of police representatives (station, provincial and national) from each province. The minister further noted a workshop was planned “in due course” with representatives from business. “Importantly, this team also draws on senior experts complemented by operational people who are familiar with the challenges and on a monthly basis, they report to the minister, deputy minister and the National Commissioner of Police on progress.
During an announcement of the turnaround strategy last year, Mthethwa emphasised the importance of responsible firearm ownership “because illegal firearms contribute to the crime rate as well as endangering of law-abiding citizens. The minister was of a view that if we can all deal with these illegal firearms which happen to be in the hands of criminals, we can significantly reduce crime across all facets.”
Mthethwa also announced that the police had revised their anti-corruption strategy in order to deal with issues of corruption within the department. This strategy aims to ensure compliance in terms of the Minimum Anti-Corruption Capacity requirements (MACC) as approved by Cabinet. “This revision was conducted in response to an audit of the extent of compliance with the MACC as conducted by the Department of Public Service and Administration in 2009/10. The revision also focused specifically on ensuring the effective implementation of the four pillars of the strategy, namely: prevention, detection, investigation and restorative actions by all divisions, provinces and police stations,” said the minister.
In order to ensure effective implementation of the strategy, specific anti-corruption action plans have now been developed for implementation at all levels, ensuring that all corruption combating initiatives contained in the strategy are reflected in the anti-corruption action plans.