CHASA - SAPS Amnesty Application Update
Below follows the submission made by the CHASA CEO who is currently also Chairperson of the Hunters Forum writing to the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee for Police in respect of the Amnesty Application by the SAPS.
Dear Honourable Members of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee for Police
I write in connection with the proposed firearm amnesty, as variously presented through this year by SAPS, and most recently again by Genl J Bothma on 8 Nov. I understand that Genl Bothma will again today, Wed 15 Nov, be submitting further corrections and information. I have perused his presentation of last week and notwithstanding our own submissions made to the committee on 15 March, I see absolutely no improvement on the model submitted by SAPS on that day. While the overarching notion of an amnesty may hold merit, there is a sinister aspect to both the haste and the SAPS continuous defiance to hear what both the stakeholder representatives or the members of the Portfolio Committee have questioned in their proposed amnesty. More specifically:
This amnesty also contemplates use by members of the firearm owning public who have failed to renew their existing licences within the prescribed time frames.
There are estimated to be well over 200 000 such individuals. Can SAPS provide a reasonably accurate number of such cases to verify or dispel this figure?
The 2010 amnesty resulted in 42000 firearms being handed in. Assuming the above number of late renewals to be correct, and that many of these people decide to use this amnesty and re-apply for their licences, has the SAPS capacity to manage now 6 FOLD MORE firearms, improved since 2010, as that would be the possible volume increment?
Further to the above point, each of these firearms are proposed to undergo IBIS ballistic sampling WITHIN 7 DAYS. What readiness has SAPS guaranteed in place to manage such vast volumes of ballistic testing? How current are SAPS ballistics with normal crime based sampling, and what impact may this volume of additional tests have on the crime related normal testing?
At a reasonable value of R5000 each, should SAPS have to manage the taking in and testing and await the decision of a new application of possibly 200 000 firearms, they will be holding and be responsible for about R1Billion worth of firearms. Do they have capacity for this?
Why do SAPS deem in necessary to take in and sample the firearms of late renewals given that this is an administrative, not criminal default? Would actual criminals knowingly submit a firearm that they had used in a crime for ballistic sampling? If yes, can previous examples of this be shown?
SAPS has made various undertakings to the Portfolio Committee, and are again presenting their amnesty without having fulfilled those undertakings. At the PCP meeting of 1 Sep Lt Gen Masemola made a commitment to engage stakeholders on the amnesty specifically. This has still not occurred. The minutes read:
Furthermore, the Committee had indicated previously that there should be consultation with the stakeholders in that process as well.
Lt Gen Masemola said that they had taken note of that, and they would comply so, it is clear that SAPS still refuse to consider any of the recognised firearm organisations, and accredited associations as stakeholders, notwithstanding an instruction by the Portfolio Committee and their own undertaking. Gen Bothma’s presentation of 8 Nov mentions NOT A SINGLE firearm stakeholder!
At the PCP meeting of 1 Sep the proposed amendments to the act were discussed. The Secretary of Police suggested that by October the draft bill would be at cabinet for approval to release for public comment. The last version of this bill held solutions, in the form of administrative fines, for late renewal of licences. Further, the judgment in the SA Hunters case which declared parts of the act relating to the renewal provisions as unconstitutional and which judgement SAPS/The Minister has taken on appeal, is due to be heard on 8 Feb. There is a sinister urgency in SAPS’ intent to force through their proposed amnesty, which may well relate to the predicament they have created with their refusal to engage in good faith (over many years) on the renewal issue, coupled with their rash decision to appeal the judgement, rather than, as the judge ordered, rectify the legislation within 18 months. Had they been reasonable we could have been well on our way to the essential legislative fixes, and thereafter if deemed necessary, an appropriate amnesty could be promulgated to give effect to the new legislation. It is inexplicable why they are so determined to put the cart before the horse.
With respect, I would in closing submit that the whole approach has been misguided. In an ideal world the fix is simple: The SAPS/Minister should abandon their appeal. The Secretary of Police should convene an urgent stakeholder process to “workshop” the nitty-gritty of the proposed amendments to the Act (together with any required adjustments of the Regulations) to have ready at Parliament’s earliest convenience in 2018. SAPS should focus on establishing the prescribed “electronic connectivity” to dealers (a matter where they remain long in breach of the Act) and seriously embark on their floundering “turnaround strategy”. Or will this premature and ill-conceived amnesty be steamrollered through, and if so, will those who enabled it stand ready to accept blame when again there is chaos within the service delivery, again NO criminal firearms exposed (which was the case in the last two amnesties) and perhaps again a few thousand firearms criminally filtered off into gangsterism and crime with yet another 1000 or more victims? What QUANTUM DIFFERENCE has SAPS truly shown that guarantees a different outcome this time?
(Chairman – The Hunters Forum)
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