South Africa, Pretoria – Police Minister Bheki Cele begged by gun owners to reconsider extending the second amnesty, which ends on January 31.
Cele earlier declared a firearm amnesty for six months, which started on December 1 and was due to end on May 31. In light of Covid-19, the amnesty was extended to January 31.
This made it possible for firearm owners with unwanted firearms to hand them over to the police without fear of prosecution, and for those who wanted to apply for new licences. Lawyer Martin Hood, a gun law expert acting on behalf of owners and related associations, once again wrote to Cele highlighting the difficulties experienced by those who made use of the amnesty process.
In the letter, Hood said the implementation of the amnesty had been problematic, and that it was in the country’s interests that illegal firearms be removed from society and, where possible, to have them legalised.
Hood called on Cele to extend the amnesty or to declare the third amnesty as a matter of urgency.
He suggested that the amnesty period should stretch until the country was better able to deal with the virus and until the SAPS were able to cope with the administrative process arising from the amnesty. In a similar letter to police commissioner General Khehla Sitole, Hood said he received complaints daily from members of the public who went to the designated firearm offices to lodge their amnesty applications and were turned away as the SAPS system had not been amended so that people could apply for a firearm licence.
Some people were told to come back in February to submit their applications for firearm renewals as the amnesty process had increased the workload of the SAPS, and they could not cope.
Hood called on the commissioner to urgently address the concerns of the public and to address the SAPS’s capacity to deal with the increase in amnesty applications.