Safety and Security Minister Steve Tshwete is moving ahead with proposals for drafting a strict gun-control law.
Despite opposition party and media claims to the contrary, the Minister of Safety and Security Steve Tshwete is moving on with the process of enacting a much stricter gun control law, his spokesperson Andre Martin said yesterday.
Martin was reacting to reports in a morning newspaper that Tshwete had scrapped controversial new draft firearms control legislation following a "deeply flawed" process of drafting and public participation.
Martin said on Monday: "The process is going ahead."
Tshwete had been given a final copy of the draft policy document this week, and if he approves, it will be taken to cabinet for approval and thereafter released for public comment.
A spokesperson for the New National Party said in a statement on Monday: "The fact that Minister Steve Tshwete denied that the draft Firearms Control Bill would be halted until further consultation, points to a sudden U-turn in his approach."
Proposals for the new legislation have been heavily attacked by gun owners who claim that it will serve to criminalise legal owners.
The proposals were, however, heartily welcomed by advocates for a gun-free South Africa.
In terms of some of the proposals considered, gun owners would have to re-apply for their licences and would have to pay a licence fee of R500, instead of the current R50.
Gun owners would also be restricted to one weapon per person.
Limits on heavy calibre guns have also been proposed and people showing an inclination to violence would be barred from owning firearms.
NNP leader Marthinus van Schalkwyk said on Monday in a statement it was quite clear that the draft circulating at the moment confused responsible, legal gun ownership with criminal, illegal gun ownership.
"The fact that the drafting process has been hijacked by people who are also opposed to legal, responsible gun ownership, in a quest for a so-called 'gun free South Africa', resulted in a biased process."
The outcome of this process would have effectively outlawed gun ownership for ordinary self-defence, and would have severely restricted participation in hunting and other shooting sports, he said.
The SA Gun Owners' Association (Sagoa) also claimed that proposals would threaten the arms retail and manufacturing
But SAPS deputy director Berni Fanaroff has steadfastly defended the proposals over the past few weeks, saying it was not possible to control illegal guns without at the same time increasing the controls on legal guns and their owners - since most illegal weapons started out as legal guns.
Meanwhile the DP spokesperson on Safety and Security, Graham McIntosh, said on Monday the process in formulating a new law has not been transparent, nor has there been adequate time for submissions, before it goes to cabinet.
"Despite several formal requests, the DP has not yet been furnished with an authoritative version of the proposed legislation," said McIntosh.
From the information available, the proposed legislation appeared, "unduly restrictive against owners of legal firearms, and does not address the real problem - that of illegal weapons".
"Moreover, some of the proposed control measures are hopelessly unrealistic and unworkable," McIntosh said.