Firearms Control Act Regulations: Briefing &Firearms Control Act Amendment Bill: Procedures

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17 June 2003
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Meeting Summary

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Meeting report


17 June 2003

Mr M George (ANC)

Documents handed out:
Firearms Control Act Amendment Bill

The Committee agreed that the appeal provision in the Regulations should be altered to provide a forty-five-day time limit for consideration of appeals and a fourteen-day period in which the decision on an appeal should be conveyed to the appellant. The Department was asked to return with a clean version of the Firearms Control Act Regulations, including the alteration, at the next meeting.

The Committee agreed that the Department should brief them on the Firearms Control Act Amendment Bill as soon as possible so that members could prepare for deliberations on the Bill.

Firearms Control Act Regulations
Adv P Swart (DA) proposed that the Committee alter the Regulations so that the Appeal Board would be required to deal with any appeals within forty-five days and then have fourteen days in which to inform the appellant of their decision.

Mr Q Kgauwe (ANC) said that Clause 7 of the Regulations provided for something like this already. It required the Board to inform the appellant of progress and allowed thirty days in which to inform the appellant of the decision.

Adv Swart replied that the Regulations allowed ninety days for a person to appeal a decision. He was proposing that the Board be allowed forty-five days in which to consider the appeal.

Ms A Van Wyk (ANC) supported Adv Swart's view. The Regulations provide a time limit for the appellant, but not for the Appeal Board other than after they had taken their decision. Under the Regulations as they stood, the Board could take as long as they chose to decide the outcome of an appeal.

The Chair suggested that Mr Kgauwe and Adv Swart had simply misunderstood one another. He agreed with shortening the time period to inform the appellant to fourteen days. He asked if the Committee accepted Adv Swart's proposal.

The Committee agreed to the proposal.

The Chair asked when the Committee would have a clean copy of the Regulations.

Adv P Jacobs, Head: Legal Support, South African Police Services (SAPS), replied that Adv Swart had earlier suggested to him that a clean copy be available by Monday of the following week.

Adv Swart said that he would prefer to see a clean copy by the end of business on Friday, 20 June. The Committee could then pass the Regulations on Monday, 23 June.

Adv Jacobs replied that they could meet the Friday deadline.

Firearms Control Act Amendment Bill
The Chair asked why the Department wanted public hearings on the Amendment Bill. He could see nothing in the Bill that warranted them, since it appeared to comprise technical amendments. Parties could consider the Bill during the course of the week.

Adv Jacobs replied that, whilst most of the Bill dealt with technical amendments, it did cover some substantive issues. These were: Clause 1: an amendment to Section 1, adding a subsection to paragraph (f) to effect the removal of the forms from the Regulations. Clause 8: corrections to subsection (2) of Section 23 to solve a problem of interpretation. Clause 9: the addition to Section 59 of licensing for apprentice gunsmiths. Clause 18: an addition to Section 140, allowing the Minister to prescribe the placing of signposts to notify the public of firearm-free zones. Clause 20: an addition to Schedule 1 to the Act; a transitional measure allowing registration certificates issued to gunsmiths to remain valid for a year from the Act's commencement. Clause 21: a consequent amendment because of Clause 20. There had also been input from the public regarding sports shooting. Whilst the Department was not in favour of an amendment to accommodate this, they had raised the comment in case the Committee wished to hear from the public on the matter at hearings.

The Chair agreed that the substantive issues had to go through the process. He asked that the Department make a presentation on the Amendment Bill. Parties could then discuss the Bill.

Mr Kgauwe said that the Department should be given time to prepare a presentation.

The Chair asked if the Department was ready to give a presentation.

Adv Jacobs replied that he could make a presentation on the Bill. He pointed out that there had to be a period of public comment or there could be procedural problems with the Bill.

The Chair agreed but stated that the process should start immediately with a presentation by the Department.

Mr R Zondo (ANC) stated that the Committee had agreed at the start only to address the Regulations on Accreditation. Members had other commitments.

Adv Swart stated that, whilst he would be happy to continue with the meeting until one o'clock, he would appreciate time to study the Amendment Bill and compare it with the Act to gain a full understanding of the amendments. The Bill had to go through due process, including public comment. He asked the Department officials to indicated how far along the process the Bill had gone.

The Chair replied that he simply wanted a presentation from the Department on the Bill. Members could then go back to their caucuses and discuss the Bill.

Adv Swart replied that he would be limited in his ability to ask questions if he did not have time to study and compare the Bill and the Act.

The Chair accepted that the members of the Committee did not wish to proceed to a presentation.

Adv Swart asked how far along the process the Bill had gone.

Adv Jacobs replied that a notice had been published. Time still had to be devoted to public comment. At least three weeks should be allowed for this.

The Chair said that he would appreciate all this being done as quickly as possible. There were serious implications to delaying implementation of proposed amendments to the Act.

Adv Swart said that the Committee would only be able to deal with the Bill when members returned from the recess.

The Chair replied that the Committee had cleared the way for the accreditation Regulations to be passed, so should proceed on that before the recess. He asked how soon the remaining Regulations would be in place.

Adv Jacobs said that these would be in place in August.

Ms Van Wyk asked that the Department provide a timeframe for the implementation of the Act. The timeframe should include firm dates. Adv Swart agreed.

The Chair asked that the Department have the programme of implementation available before the end of the week.

Adv Jacobs agreed that this would be done.

Anti-Terrorism Bill
Adv Swart asked for clarity on when the hearings on the Anti-Terrorism Bill would take place. He asked when he would receive all the necessary information from the hearings so that he could prepare himself properly.

The Chair replied that the decision to delay the hearings had been taken rather late. Other Committees involved in them had complained of being left behind, so a decision had taken to delay the hearings until 23 June 2003. The decision had been taken on the morning of Thursday, 12 June. This should have given the Committee Section enough time to inform members, but there appeared to be problems in the section. The hearings would start on 23 June and all related documents would be sent to members before the end of the recess.

The meeting was adjourned.


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