Cele on guns: Amended Firearms Control Act cannot allow individuals to own more than one gun

Police Minister Bheki Cele. (Netwerk24)
Police Minister Bheki Cele. (Netwerk24)

The amended Firearms Control Act of 2000 cannot allow individuals to own more than one firearm, Police Minister Bheki Cele has said.

The minister was speaking in Linden, Johannesburg, on Tuesday while receiving over 200 surrendered weapons and thousands of rounds of ammunition from a dealer.

During the handover, Cele said the act was well under review although further consultations were yet to get underway.

He said it would be wonderful to have a country where individuals were not issued with firearms and that, among other issues, the ministry was fighting for weapons not to be issued to individuals.

"One thing we are trying to put there [in the review], is that individuals should not have firearms.

"One funny thing about the present Firearms Act is that it allows individuals in South Africa to have an unlimited number of firearms, and definitely the incoming act can't allow that," the minister said during the briefing.

Cele said allowing individuals to own more than one weapon, created issues with safety and contributed to the gun problems in the country.

He said not allowing individuals to own more than one weapon would also assist with inspections and police would be able to track firearms efficiently. 

He added although the legislation review was still in its early stages, its amendment would improve the safety of individuals and South Africa.

Cele said with the amendment, security at borders would also need to be extensively tightened and monitored because guns such as AK47s were being smuggled through it.

2266 firearms in less than 50 days

He added although no shops were manufacturing AK47s in the country, the weapons are still being used by criminals, especially those who commit cash-in-transit (CIT) robberies.

Cele declared the national firearms amnesty period in December last year after Parliament approved it.

The process is part of government's plan to deal with illegal and unwanted firearms in communities.

The minister announced that 2 266 firearms were handed in at various police stations across all provinces in the less than 50 days since the amnesty period was declared.

'Infringing on every South Africans' right to life'

National Police Commissioner General Khehla Sitole said section 13 of the Firearms Control Act sets out the requirements for self-defence when one applies for a firearm.

He said there were also other provisions for hunting and sporting activities in the act, which may change once the review process is concluded.

Sitole stressed that all firearms surrendered during the amnesty period were safe because they were subjected to a physical security assessment process.

He said all stations which passed the assessment and met the safety requirements were declared centres where firearms could be kept, while others were being worked on to meet the safety requirements.

Police called for calm over the Draft Bill on Gun Licences which proposed taking away self-defence as a reason to own a gun, News24 previously reported.

Gun Owners South Africa (GOSA) expressed its "outrage" at what the Amendment Bill contained, arguing that it would take away self-defence as a valid reason for owning a gun, "infringing on every South Africans' right to life". 

In 2018, Constitutional Court Justice Johan Froneman ruled that owning a firearm was not a fundamental right, but a privilege regulated by law under the Firearms Control Act, News24 reported

The ruling came after a long court battle between the South African Hunters and Game Conservation Association (SAHGCA) and the minister of police. The association argued that the police did not have capacity to handle the surrender of firearms.

The apex court also found that gun owners whose licences have expired, would have to surrender their firearms to the police.

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