Pretoria - Police generals in charge of the central firearms registry office were on Wednesday told to return to Parliament’s police committee with a clear action plan including targets, time frames and budgets to ensure the effective running of the registry.
This followed a presentation from which emerged challenges dating back at least two years to the full implementation of the register. This is responsible for processing firearms applications in all provinces and maintaining a database of legal firearm owners in keeping with the firearms control legislation.
The registry office’s challenges include that various databases do not talk to each other and storage, corruption, staff shortages and matters related to the application and renewal processes exist.
“The registration system is not used optimally in that when there is a renewal the registry staff cannot locate the documents on the system because they were not registered on approval,” one slide of the SAPS power point presentation to MPs revealed.
It also emerged that the SAPS lost almost all appeals against refused firearms licences. One example cited during the committee meeting was a refusal of a licence because there was no fence around a house. While a safe is a legal requirement, fencing is not.
Freedom Front Plus MP Pieter Groenewald said he was worried about the lack of control and system defects let the public down.
“More than R400 million has been spent on the computer system, but it is still not functioning properly. The (police) minister owes legal firearms owners an apology,” he said.
Police committee chairman Francois Beukman said it was disappointing” that what had been presented did not reveal how much implementation would cost”. But the committee supported any measures for effective firearms control as this would cut the number of violent crimes.
“I am talking about a need to have a reliable database and effective IT management systems. But it is also important to have management members… whose integrity is beyond reproach.”