Address by the National Commissioner of the South African Police Service, General Bheki Cele at the press briefing on the Firearm Control Amendment Act and Operation Duty Calls feedback, held at the Tshwane SAPS Academy
6 Jan 2011
Lieutenant generals present
Major generals present
Senoir officers present
Members of the media
Ladies and gentleman, I address this media conference this morning for the first time in the year 2011 and I would like to take this opportunity to wish you all a peaceful, crime free and prosperous New Year. This day is buzzing with excitement on the official release of the Matric results for the year 2010. On numerous occasions such excitement leads to unfortunate circumstances, however we are confident with our strategic police deployment that we can ensure that the people of South Africa are and feel safe during this period and beyond.
Our fundamental mandate as the South African Police Service (SAPS) is to serve and protect whilst ensuring that in carrying out our duties we display excellence, dedication and vigour in our resolve to fight and combat crime. Members of the media, this media conference comes at a time when our men and women in blue are working tirelessly in achieving desired results for the ongoing festive season Operation Duty Calls. Further to that our members are hard at work as we are responding to the call made by our Minister Nathi Mthethwa to implement a turnaround strategy within the environment of the Firearms Control Registry of the SAPS.
In December 2010 the Minister announced the amendment of the Firearms Control Act 28 of 2006 which primarily makes provision for owners of muzzle-loading firearms to apply for competency certificates for such firearms.
This application must be made within a period of one year commencing on 10 January 2011 (next week Monday), at the police station nearest to the applicant’s place of residence and it must be done on the form SAPS 517. Once this application is lodged, the possession of a muzzle-loading firearm shall remain lawful until the application is finalised.
Failure to apply for a competency certificate within the stipulated period of time will render the possession of such muzzle-loading firearm unlawful.
Any person who fails to comply with these provisions will be liable to criminal prosecution and possible incarceration for a period not exceeding 15 years. Therefore, I would like to urge all owners of muzzle-loading firearms to conform to this Amendment Act.
The amendment to this Act also makes stipulation for the renewal of competency certificates within a period of at least 90 days before the expiry of the certificate. All persons whose competency certificates have expired must apply at least 90 days before expiry of such certificate on the form SAPS 517(g).
Furthermore, the period of validity of licences and permits in terms of Sections 20 and 20(a) of the Firearms Control Act has also been amended. Much to the pleasure of licence holders the following changes have been made:-
in terms of Section 20, the validity period for a licence to possess a firearm for business purposes : Business in hunting – has been extended from five years to ten years, and
in terms of Section 20(a), the validity period for a licence to possess a firearm for business purposes : Business other than in hunting – has been extended from two years to five years.
Many questions have been raised in the past about the progress of applications to renew licences and new applications. To this end and following the press conference by Minister Nathi Mthethwa and myself on 2 November 2010 I am pleased to announce that significant progress has been made to finalise major backlogs and new applications.
The task team has a time-frame between 1 November 2010 and 30 June 2011 to finalise the mountainous backlog of applications and simultaneously to deal with the flood of new applications.
With regards to the backlog, the task team has made great strides and, in just two months:
41% of the competency applications have been finalised,
26% of individual licence applications have been finalised,
36% of business licence applications,
51% of business renewal applications.
We have enhanced the capacity in this environment tremendously. Eight additional colonels, eighteen additional lieutenant colonels and eight captains have been deployed to the Central Firearm Registry to deal with this backlog. We are certainly moving in a positive direction since our last meeting in early November 2010.
It must also be borne in mind that, at this stage, we are running two parallel processes with different sets of personnel – one group to work on the backlog and another to process new applications. It would be counter-productive to load new applications onto the tail end of the backlog.
Operation Duty Calls
On the matter of the festive season operation, “Operation Duty Calls” the SAPS – together with our partners – have worked tirelessly and sacrificed valuable time with their loved ones to ensure a safer festive season for our people. Officers have patrolled the streets in uniform on foot, in vehicles, vessels and aircraft and even on horseback in the suburbs, in and around major shopping centres, various central business districts (CBDs) and also in rural areas.
Their hard work has paid off in that we have had little or no reports of serious violent crime particularly in terms of robberies at shopping malls, cash-in-transit heists, bank robberies and ATM bombings. These areas have been some of our priorities because of problems over previous festive seasons and I think our officers have done very well.
Since the inception of this operation on 18 October 2010 to date, a total of 233 531 people have been arrested. The following is the breakdown of some of the arrests:
Murder – 2 329
Attempted murder – 1 052
Assault grievous bodily harm (GBH) – 19 822 (this we attribute inter alia to the abuse of alcohol)
Assault common – 10 396 (this we can also attribute inter alia to the abuse of alcohol)
Rape and sexual assault – 3 906
Burglary (house) – 5 927 (This is phenomenal as this was also one of our areas of focus)
Drug related crimes – 12 901
The other arrests were for crimes like common robbery, theft of / from motor vehicles, driving under the influence of drugs/alcohol, malicious damage to property, etc,
During this time a variety of property was either seized or recovered and these include 2 833 vehicles, 3 222 firearms, 26 880 rounds of ammunition, knives, drugs (including dagga, cocaine, ecstasy and mandrax) and almost 38 million bottles and cans of alcohol (beer and hard liquor). These recoveries are valued at several million rand.
In closing, I would like to take this opportunity to thank all SAPS members, the emergency services personnel, traffic police and other government departments for their untiring efforts in ensuring that the people of South Africa are and feel safe during 2010/11 festive period. The year 2010 has indeed been a year of action for members of the South African Police Service in pushing back the frontiers of evil.
I thank you.
Major General Nonkululeko Mbatha – Communication and Liaison Services
Cell: 083 645 6252
Tel: 012 400 6579 / 6629 / 6576
Fax: 012 400 7018E-mail: [email protected]
Source: South African Police Service
Issued by: South African Police Service
6 Jan 2011