Media Statement:Don't Throw Us Under The Bus

on 11 February 2021
by Jonathan Deal

Don't throw law-abiding gun-owners under the bus with SAPS and the CFR

11 February 2021 – For immediate release

A hard-hitting and factual OPED in The Daily Maverick thoroughly exposes chaotic administration and systemic corruption at the Central Firearms Registry (CFR). SafeCitizen is delighted that the article shines a light on all of the issues that have been repeatedly raised by the organised firearms fraternity in various fora over many years. In recent weeks SafeCitizen has commenced formal engagement with the Civilian Secretariat for Police Services, a government agency mandated amongst other things, to enable effective civilian oversight of the SAPS, and in this context, service delivery and efficiency of the police force and the CFR. SafeCitizen is well apprised of all of the issues raised in the OPED and is currently engaging the Secretary of Police in this regard.

The single reservation raised in relation to this excellent exposé relates to the paraphrasing of Minister Nathi Mthethwa's statements with the sentence: "Mthethwa's statements emphasised how important controlling civilian access to firearms was to curbing criminal violence in South Africa".

In our view, it ought to be said that although criminals (those that enable criminal possession of firearms and those that buy firearms from them) are mostly civilians, they will ideally be referred to in this context as 'criminals' so that the broader and law-abiding population of gun-owners need not be tainted with and penalised for criminal activity. Moreover, it should be noted that a steady flow of firearms lost and stolen from SAPS, SANDF and various government agencies supplements the unlicensed firearms from across South Africa's borders. Most recently even the agency charged with South Africa's State Security has been implicated in issuing guns to friends. SafeCitizen's media release on that revelation can be sourced here: (http://bit.ly/3aaukDr
).

The two most recent amnesties promoted by Minister Bheki Cele are in our view useless as a tool for disarming criminals, who are not afforded any immunity from prosecution for a crime committed with a gun that they voluntarily surrender to the police. It is therefore logical that no criminal will drop a gun on the station counter and say "I've used this gun in a murder".

The real motivation for the amnesties was to attempt to fix the vast conundrum now facing SAPS wherein at least 350,000 holders of expired 'white licences' are de facto in possession of unlicensed guns. This present and very serious situation, is not only the result of gun owners failing to timeously renew their gun licences, but also in part the fault of an unworkable and badly designed local regime. The contributing issues, and various sensible alternatives have been raised with SAPS leadership ad nauseam to no avail.

Lawful gun owners who must comply with one of the strictest licensing systems in the world, routinely suffer delays of more than a year to license a firearm and are often denied licences for spurious reasons, mostly related to the capacity of the CFR to do its work. This state of affairs impacts on the Constitutional right of every person to effective self-defence against violence and the bona fide sporting activities pursued by tens of thousands of lawful gun owners.

In conclusion, we believe that the current state of affairs can only be remedied by an overhaul of the CFR and a decision by SAPS to work with, instead of, against law-abiding gun owners and to also accept the assistance, expertise and administrative muscle of the hundreds of licensed firearm dealers in South Africa.

Jonathan Deal
National Coordinator

ENDS

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