The Freedom Front Plus has accused Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa and national police Commissioner Bheki Cele of misleading the public about firearms. FF Plus spokesman Pieter Groenewald says Mthethwa’s statements that only law-enforcers should be carrying weapons is an acknowledgments that government wants to disarm civilians.
“The minister is fumbling and contradicts himself,” he says. Mthethwa recently stated that since 2005 nearly one million firearms had been taken out of circulation, the South African Press Association reports. But, in reply to a parliamentary question last year he said that between July 1 2004 (when the new law came into force) and December 31 2008, 125 716 firearms had been handed in to police.
In the same answer, he said that from July 1 2004 until June 30 2009 104 880 illegal firearms had been seized by police. Groenewald says this meant about 800 000 firearms would have had to be removed from circulation in one year, which was practically impossible. “The minister is misleading the public about firearms,” Groenewald avers. “Commissioner Bheki Cele also misleads the public.”
SAPA reports Mthethwa had acknowledged in an answer to another parliamentary question that he could not say how many crimes had been committed by owners of legal firearms or by persons with stolen or illegal firearms. “If the Minister does not even know how many criminal acts had been committed with illegal firearms, how can Cele say that the impact the police are making in the number of illegal firearms in circulation can be seen in the increase of crimes committed with knives?
“The minister and commissioner contradict themselves and each other and it proves that they are running a campaign against legal firearm owners,” Groenewald said. “Since the inception of the new Firearms Control Act the government has been running a vendetta against legal firearm owners.
“It is now being continued and it is clear from the statements made by Mthethwa in October of last year when he said that the extraordinary high level of crime in South Africa is partly due to the large number of firearms in the possession of civilians. This was followed by President Jacob Zuma who in the same month said in Tzaneen in Limpopo that too many firearms can be found in the hands of civilians.
“Civilians need firearms to defend themselves against criminals because of the high crime rate in South Africa. If crime figures were low, civilians would arm themselves less and there would then be fewer firearms in circulation. The duty is on the shoulders of the minister and ccmmissioner to effectively combat crime; then there would be fewer firearms,” Groenewald said.