Johannesburg -

A new law preventing the carrying of dangerous weapons during public gatherings and protests came into effect early this month, police said on Tuesday.

The Dangerous Weapons Act prohibits the carrying of firearms, knives, spears, axes, knobkerries, crowbars, hammers and nunchakus, Lt-General Solomon Makgale said.

“If the possession of a dangerous weapon raises a reasonable suspicion that the person intends to use it to commit an unlawful act, the person may be found guilty of an offence and liable on conviction to a fine or to be imprisoned for a period not exceeding three years,” he said.

Makgale said that, as of January 2, it was a criminal offence for a person to carry an airgun, firearm, an imitation of a firearm, or any harmful and sharp object capable of causing death or inflicting serious bodily harm.

Possession of a dangerous weapon would not lead to an arrest if the person worked within law enforcement or if the weapon was used during religious or cultural activities.

Dangerous weapons could also be used for recreation, entertainment, legitimate collection, display, or exhibition. - Sapa