'Overreaction' to dangerous weapons bill
Cape Town - A police official says it is "unfortunate" that there has been an overreaction to the draft dangerous weapons bill.
Major General Phillip Jacobs, of the SA Police Service's legal support crime operations division, said in a report published by the Cape Times newspaper on Tuesday that the bill had nothing to do with preventing people from playing paintball or using any weapon to defend themselves.
Rather, it would allow police to confront anyone they saw carrying, for example, a crossbow or a sword in a public space and ask why they were carrying the weapon.
"If someone is carrying a dangerous weapon in suspicious circumstances, using their private defence as an excuse will not be acceptable," he said.
The draft bill was published in the Government Gazette for public comment on September 2, after which it will have to be approved by the Cabinet.
Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa will then be allowed to introduce the bill in Parliament.
Freedom Front Plus MP Pieter Groenewald said the bill defines a dangerous weapon and deals with the trade in toy guns, air guns, BB-guns and paintball guns.
"The bill stipulates that anyone found in possession of these guns or a dangerous weapon in certain circumstances which creates suspicion, can be arrested and can be handed a sentence of up to three years in jail," he said.
"This bill has far-reaching implications and nearly any object, from a pocket knife to a stone is viewed as a dangerous weapon."
The bill gave powers to the police to arrest people "left, right and centre".
It would seriously hamper the paintball industry and various forms of eastern martial arts, he said.