Red tape, graft blamed for firearms licence delays

2011-03-21 00:00

THE Central Firearms Registry is allegedly plagued by serious administration problems that have led to a massive backlog in the issuing of firearms licences.

In KwaZulu-Natal the backlog is estimated at 23 000 and the national backlog is estimated at 800 000.

Gun collectors, gun shops and a gun owners’ association all say they are at their wits’ end as the slow issuing of firearms licences is crippling their business and activities. They said applicants can wait for up to two years.

The Black Gun Owners’ Association has threatened the police ministry with a lawsuit and the SA Gun Owners’ Association will take the ministry to court in April.

A Pietermaritzburg firearms collector said he has been waiting for over six months for his licence. He applied in July last year and has been informed that his licence is ready. “I am now just waiting for the police station to collect the licence. From what I have heard … the recent figure that is being bandied about is 23 000 people waiting for their licences.”

Another collector said he had been waiting for over two years.

A local gun shop said it has been forced to diversify because the delay in licensing is crippling the business.

“There is absolutely nothing happening with the process; you only get to hear about the progress of the application once you go there and shout at them [police],” said the owner.

Martin Hood of the SA Gun Owners’ association said they are taking the ministry to court over the delays. “On April 11 we will be going to court as 4 500 security officers have been waiting for years to get their licences.”

Police ministry spokesperson Zweli Mnisi conceded that corruption has been a problem, adding that the ministry has moved to improve technologies to fast-track the process.

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