Opposition to Police Minister Bheki Cele’s proposed changes to the law governing firearm ownership continue to mount with one political party staging what it sees as South Africa’s “largest virtual gun summit”.
At the same time Freedom Front Plus (FF+) leader Pieter Groenewald maintains the proposal is “madness” with Ian Cameron founder of firearms.co.za and a board member of #SafeCitizen putting it almost as bluntly saying a firearm is needed for self-defence in South Africa.
In a politicsweb contribution Cameron writes “Cele admitted, in Parliament, that police lost more than 10 million rounds of ammunition in less than seven years and more than 5 000 firearms. According to a 2019/20 police report, the SA Police Service (SAPS) loses around 700 firearms annually”.
“Imagine if each of those firearms was used in one murder; should a police officer not be held accountable for each firearm lost?” he asks.
Groenewald, in a statement, pointed to the gruesome killing of eight people at a Honeydew, Johannesburg, informal settlement as well as SAPS failing dismally when it comes to DNA and other forensic investigations. “It will, apparently, take up to 18 months to eliminate the backlog if all laboratories function optimally”, he said. Going further Groenewald quoted national police commissioner General Khehla Sitole as saying SAPS has “become a multi-purpose service tasked with a mandate impossible to fulfil due to failure of the National Crime Prevention Strategy (NCPS)”. Groenewald maintains this is further evidence South Africa does not have a competent and effective police service to protect people and their property.
Democratic Alliance (DA) parliamentarian Andrew Whitfield, the opposition party’s shadow minister for Cele’s portfolio, plans a major virtual rally against the Firearms Control Amendment Bill next Tuesday (22 June).
Billed as a firearms summit, he sees the platform as one where civil society organisations, academia, interest groups and the public will deliberate on this “draconian legislation” and seek ways to oppose the Bill, informally known as the “Guns Bill”.
“Especially problematic, the Bill aims to scrap self-defence as a reason to apply for a firearm,” Whitfield said adding he believed the police service was seeking to disarm law abiding citizens by effectively stripping them of the right to own firearms for self-defence.
“This while SAPS aids criminals to obtain confiscated firearms leaves ordinary citizens defenceless against murderers and rapists”.
The party has to date garnered over 73 000 signatures on a petition opposing the bill. “It shows South Africans are not willing to forfeit their last line of defence,” he said.