DA drums up support at virtual guns summit, but Bheki Cele a no-show

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The DA has held a conference over proposals to curb firearm ownership.
The DA has held a conference over proposals to curb firearm ownership.
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  • Police Minister Bheki Cele snubbed the DA's virtual gun summit held on Tuesday.
  • The DA hosted the summit to garner support for its campaign against the Firearms Control Amendment Bill.
  • The Bill proposes to scrap self-defence as a reason for applying for a firearm.

The DA says it will send Police Minister Bheki Cele a digital copy of its virtual gun summit after Cele snubbed the party's invitation.

Cele's spokesperson Lirandzu Themba last week said they had, at that stage, only acknowledged the invitation.

On Tuesday, several gun owners' organisations presented their views on proposed amendments on the Firearms Control Amendment Bill.

The biggest bone of contention in the Bill was the proposal to scrap self-defence as a reason for applying for a firearm.

READ | Public comments flood in over Firearms Control Amendment Bill

DA MP and spokesperson on police, Andrew Whitfield, said: "The overwhelming consensus remains that South Africans are vehemently opposed to the Firearms Control Amendment Bill.

He added:

This draconian and problematic legislation aims to scrap self-defence as a reason to apply for a firearm, but that is by no means the only reason why more than 76 000 people have signed the DA's petition against this bill to date.

The DA's event raised the ire of Tina Joemat-Pettersson, the chairperson of Parliament's portfolio committee on police, who accused the DA of politicising gun control.

But Whitfield said the DA would continue to stand with all sectors of society and fight the "unconstitutional" legislation with every means possible.

READ | SA Counsul-General still waiting for police report on Lindani Myeni killing

"Minister Cele cannot rationalise leaving people defenceless while the South African Police Service (SAPS) budget for visible policing is being cut by R3.8 billion, while VIP protection has been increased by R26 million. If he wants to leave South Africans defenceless, we challenge him to spend a month as a normal citizen, without his VIP bodyguards' protection and honestly contemplate how he would feel without the means to protect himself or the lives of his family," he said.

Joemat-Pettersson said the committee had convened summits in 2015 and 2020, but in light of the Covid-19 pandemic, the committee's plans for a summit were disrupted, not cancelled.

The committee intended to convene a firearms summit next month.

Themba did not respond to a request for comment on Tuesday.

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