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SAFETY AND SECURITY PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
18 February 2004
FIREARMS CONTROL ACT REGULATIONS: SAPS BRIEFING
Chairperson: Mr M George
Documents handed out:
Firearms Control Act, 2000 - Firearms Control Regulations
Application for Permit to Transport Firearms and Ammunition
The SA Police Service (SAPS) briefed the Committee on amendments to the Firearms Control Act Regulations, 2004. The first 36 pages of the Firearms Control Regulations were studied. Members' questions regarded clarification of definitions, whether the stipulated training programmes were in place and about department firearm accreditation.
The Chair apologised to Members for the late arrival of the documents on the day before, Tuesday 17 February, which he had wanted to be circulated by Friday 13 February. In answer to a question from Adv P Swart (DA), he said that review of the bulky Regulations should be finished before the upcoming elections. The Police Commissioner and Minister would meet the Committee on 25 February so the next briefing would take place on Tuesday 24 February.
Briefing on Regulations
Assistant Commissioner of the SAPS, Mr P Jacobs, highlighted the sensitive issues in the Regulations such as assigned definitions in the Act, for example of "game farm" and "import" (Chapter One - Introductory Provisions).
Mr P Van Vuuren (Legal Services: SAPS Crime Intelligence) briefed the Committee on the amendments, such as the definition of a professional hunter as opposed to an occasional or dedicated hunter (Chapter One).
Mr M Booi (ANC) asked how foreigners were monitored to ensure that they were not bringing in weapons for illegal purposes.
Van Vuuren said there were regulations that personal firearms should leave the country with those foreigners.
The Chair wanted to know what checks and balances were undertaken with regards to the issuing of a licence for dedicated hunters.
Van Vuuren said that a competence certificate was needed before any licence for firearms was issued.
Mr P Groenewald (FF) asked how the SAPS would judge which citizens were mentally fit to apply for licences after it had been proven that those individuals had no criminal record.
Van Vuuren said that that would take place through investigation of each individual. Groenewald was sceptical about whether the SAPS had the capacity to do this.
Van Vuuren highlighted amendments to the definitions of the "loading of ammunition" and the "state" in the Act (Chapter One).
Mr D Gibson (DA) and Swart asked why previously used cartridges were used for reloading when new cartridges could be bought. Van Vuuren said that that matter would have to be discussed again.
The Chair told Van Vuuren that the Commitee should decide whether applications for accreditation should be refused, and not the Registrar as stated in Chapter Two, Clause 2(9).
Chapter Two, Clause 4(1)(b) dealt with the provision by hunting associations and sports-shooting organisations to provide relevant training courses. Swart asked whether those training courses were in place. He thought that it would be terrible if the Firearms Control Regulations were printed on 19 March 2004 and what was stipulated on paper was not available in practice.
Groenewald agreed that if there were no training facilities, transitional arrangements had to made.
Director JJ Bothma (SAPS) responded that that process relevant training had begun. Shooting ranges existed as specified in Chapter Two, Clause 6. A process was in place to ensure that trainers underwent competent training themselves before teaching others..
Van Vuuren said that Regulation C of Chapter Two, Clause 10 clearly stated that if one had a hunting business, one had to be physically involved in that hunting process.
Swart asked the SAPS whether all state departments had had their firearms accredited. Bothma said that firearms had been received from all national departments but not yet from municipalities.
Swart expressed unease about the Registrar being able to ask an individual applying for a competence certificate about forced job loss, as stated in Chapter Three, Clause 14(1)(g). He was also dissatisfied with Clause14(1)(f), saying that it invaded the privacy and dignity of the individual.
The Chairperson saw nothing wrong with the question. If an individual wanted to possess a firearm, he/she should allow the police to delve in his/her past to ensure that he/she was not inclined to violence.
Groenewald firmly believed that Clause 14(1)(e) should not be included and further disagreed with the Chairperson's preference to delay granting firearm licences until fit persons were correctly allocated. Crime was escalating in South Africa and that individuals wanted to obtain guns to protect themselves sooner rather than later.
Booi said that all mechanisms had to be used to ensure that the applicant was a "person in good standing" (Chapter One, Clause 1(xv)). Therefore it was correct to investigate whether applicants had a history of violent behaviour.
Van Vuuren then mentioned the safety measures that had to be taken for the display of firearms as stated in Chapter Four, Clause16. He also went through Clause 21(2)(i) and (j) where it was stated that a security person could not be given a firearm if he had been charged with a criminal offence or improper conduct. He then moved through Clause 24(4) where it read that temporary licences were granted to those who were trained to deal with firearms. He concluded that the rest of the pages up until and including page 36 were in line with the Act.
The meeting was adjourned.
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