Police launch investigation into gun dealers

An independent probe has been commissioned into alleged unscrupulous practices among firearm dealers, Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa has said.

Concerns had recently been raised about firearm dealers not complying with the Firearms Control Act, Mthethwa said in a statement today.

“In order to ensure that the provisions of the act are properly complied with. I have decided to set up an independent investigation into the practices complained of,” he said.

The allegations included:

» Withholding, either in full or in part, the deposit applicants paid for competency certificates and firearm licences;

» The sale of firearms for which people who had paid deposits pending the processing of their applications to other people;

» The sale of defective self-defence weapons to mainly black applicants; and

» Collusion with police central firearm registry members to delay or refuse applications.

“The above concerns are serious and cannot be brushed off lightly. If proven to be true, they have potential negative indictment and impact on crime-reduction efforts,” Mthethwa said.

The integrity of the firearms register was vital to crime combating efforts, because if it was compromised it could lead to a proliferation of unlicensed firearms in the country.

He said the investigation would be headed by a senior counsel, supported by three other members drawn from the legal fraternity.

They would have six weeks to complete their work, and would then have to present their findings and recommendations to Mthethwa.

They would be tasked with probing the complaints, the effectiveness of the policies, procedures and practices in use to regulate dealers and firearms training institutions, and the language in which applicants were instructed during training and its potential impact on proficiency in firearm handling and use.

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