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SAFETY AND SECURITY PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
10 November 2004
DRAFT NOTICE ON DECLARATION OF AMNESTY, DEPARTMENT AND INDEPENDENT COMPLAINTS COMMITTEE ANNUAL REPORTS: ADOPTION
Chairperson: Ms M Sotyu (ANC)
Documents handed out:
Declaration of an Amnesty in Terms of Section 139 of the Firearms Control Act, 2000
Explanatory Memorandum on Firearms Control Act
Department Annual Report and Financial Statements 2003/4
Independent Complaints Directorate Annual Report and Financial Statements 2003/4
After hearing a brief presentation by the SA Police Services (SAPS) and posing a few questions of clarification, the Committee agreed to the Declaration of Amnesty. Both the Annual Reports were adopted with one minor technical amendment.
SA Police Services briefing
Commissioner Jacobs (SAPS Legal Services: Crime Operations) explained that before the Amnesty Notice could be published in the Government Gazette, it had to be approved by both Houses of Parliament. He briefly gave the history of the Amnesty and its dates, and the procedures that would be followed.
Mr A Maziya (ANC) asked about the process of surrendering a firearm. What would happen in a person was arrested en route to the police station to submit his/her firearm.
Mr Jacobs stated that everyone ran a risk of being arrested until the firearm was handed in. It was important to hand in the firearm as soon as possible. They would encourage illegal gun owners to inform the police that they were coming in to the station in the public campaign.
Adv A Gaum (NNP) asked about the destruction of firearms. What time period did people have to apply for a license before their firearm was destroyed? He also asked about Clause 139.1. Under what specific circumstances could the Minister grant amnesty? He also asked about the historic success rate of granting amnesty.
Mr Jacobs said that the time for a license application was 14 days. Previous amnesties had been held under different circumstances. It would be difficult to say how many firearms would be submitted. In the drafting of the Firearms Control Act, they had been aware that they would need an amnesty period for licenses.
Mr R Jankielsohn (ANC) asked what awareness campaigns had been planned. He also asked if there was any legal compensation for owners of legal firearms and why the previous amnesty plans did not follow this process. What were the reasons it had failed?
Mr Jacobs said that public campaigns had been planned for all the different media. The question of amnesty had always been on the table. Previously Parliament had not had to approve the draft, but this now had to be done under the new Firearms Control Act.
Ms A Van Wyk (ANC) asked about the checks and balances in place to ensure that weapons given to police stations would be recorded under a proper system and monitored from a central point. She suggested a numbered receipt system or a 'request to submit' form. There had to be some documentation to prove that weapons handed in would be destroyed.
Mr Jacobs said that the planning of the operation had included the notion of integrity. Police officers had gone through training to ensure that they knew how to work the system.
Ms J Sosibo (ANC) gave an example of someone who had submitted firearm at a police station, but had failed to apply for a license for over a year. She asked how the person would know if the firearm had been destroyed or if it was awaiting destruction.
Mr Jacobs said that this case was an example of an exceptional case where people obtained firearms through inheritance and they needed to get a license. He said that the firearm would only be destroyed if the application was not successful.
The Chairperson moved for the adoption of the Declaration. The Declaration was adopted after its reading. The Chairperson noted that some Members had not received the reports until an hour before the meeting.
Department and ICD Annual Reports
Mr Jankielsohn pointed out that the financial statements had to be corrected in the Department and the ICD Annual Reports, as figures did not clearly reflect millions of rands. Mr Maziya agreed and the Chairperson agreed that three zeros be added.
Mr Gaum moved for the adoption of the reports with amendments. Mr Van Wyk seconded the motion, and the Committee adopted them unanimously.
The meeting was adjourned.
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