Media Statement:Gun Licences - SAPS Asks For Time

on 15 February 2021
by Jonathan Deal

Firearm Amnesty Takes Its Toll On Central Firearms Registry

15 February 2021 – For immediate release

Please be patient and allow SAPS to apply due diligence in administering firearm licence applications – this was the gist of a media release today from SAPS Brigadier Vish Naidoo.

In a lengthy media statement, Brigadier Naidoo canvassed some reasons for the consideration and decision process of firearm licence applications taking much longer than the 90-day period permitted in the Regulations attached to the Firearms Control Act. Brigadier Naidoo pointed to the impact of COVID19 on staffing levels and also directly referenced the two consecutive amnesties motivated by the Minister of police during 2020.

This problem was here long before COVID19 and the amnesties

Long before COVID or the amnesties, turnaround periods on competent licence applications were experienced by applicants in some cases to take up to 18 months, with a 90-day turnaround being the exception. Moreover, at the time of the first amnesty being confirmed, it was widely and accurately speculated amongst the organised firearms fraternity that it was a physical impossibility for SAPS to manage the volume of between 300,000 and 400,000 firearms on expired "white licences" in the allowed amnesty period. It is common cause based on previous amnesties that almost without exception the firearms gathered in amnesties are handed in by law-abiding citizens and on that basis it is apparent that the two amnesties were intended by the Minister of Police to provide a mechanism for expired "white licence" holders to relicense their firearms, or simply surrender those firearms for destruction. More than 20,000 of the 23,000 odd firearms handed in under the latest amnesty are the subject of applications for re-licensing. This proves that the amnesties have simply created an enormous amount of extra work at great cost for SAPS and not solved any issue at all.

The math never did work

Even considering the combined length of the two amnesties, excluding weekends and public holidays the SAPS would have had to receive and process a minimum of 750 firearms every single day without missing a beat. This was pointed out on a number of occasions to no avail.

As it stands today

On February 1st, an estimated 350,000 "white-licence" holders became de facto criminals according to Act 60 of 2000 – in possession of technically unlicensed firearms. Quite apart from the current conundrum of reduced service levels due to COVID and the amnesties, SAPS is now facing a crisis of enormous proportions in deciding how to address 350,000 technically unlicensed firearms (and their owners). In the years running up to this state of affairs the formal firearm fraternity engaged on many occasions to make suggestions and offer assistance to the police, amongst other methods through the network of licensed firearm dealers. The offers and suggestions were rejected or at best ignored.

Light at the end of the tunnel

Finally the virtual breakdown of service to law-abiding gun owners has been formally acknowledged. This is a very positive starting point and establishes a juncture which should encourage the formal firearms fraternity to constructively re-engage with SAPS. SafeCitizen is on the cusp of establishing a formalised relationship with the Civilian Secretariat for Police Services and the organisation will be filling a valuable role in promoting community safety and security by exercising an effective civilian oversight of service delivery by SAPS to the public.

Let's Support SAPS and Work Through This Together

SAPS and law-abiding citizens ought have the same goals around lawful firearm ownership. Citizens desire an effective method of self-defence and the use of firearms to pursue their sporting interests, and SAPS benefit from lawfully armed and competent gun owners. Covid19 and the amnesties are a reality, as is the "350,000 conundrum" and it will take a joint effort from SAPS and lawfully licensed gun owners to see the end of this challenge. Gun owners can assist by ensuring that their licence and competency renewals are submitted in time and that their paperwork is valid in all respects. The CFR will need to play open cards about its capacity to handle the extra work flow and request additional resourcing if this problem is to ever get in front of the curve of new applications.


Jonathan Deal
National Coordinator

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