SAPS approaches Parliament for new amnesty period for public to hand in firearms
Durban - The Parliamentary Select Committee on Security and Justice received a request from the South African Police Service (SAPS) on Thursday for a new six-month firearms amnesty, commencing in August this year.
The SAPS informed the committee that a total of 27 336 firearms were surrendered during the 2019/2020 amnesty period, which was far below the number of firearms surrendered during the 2005 amnesty that was declared for the same period of six months.
Last month, the final month of the 2019/2020 amnesty period, more than 11 000 firearms were surrendered. This included illegal firearms and those voluntarily surrendered.
The committee heard that granting another amnesty period would afford communities another opportunity to surrender illegal and unwanted firearms and/or ammunition, in an effort to curb the proliferation of illegal firearms in circulation.
It is believed that another amnesty, if declared, would be in the interest of the public since many people had shown a willingness to participate.
The aim of the amnesty is to reduce the number of illegally possessed firearms in circulation in South Africa, to provide firearm owners the opportunity to hand in unwanted firearms, to prevent crime and violence and promote safety, and to address the fundamental causes of crime in order to effectively protect communities and ensure that people living in South Africa feel safe and have no fear of crime.
The issue of the lack of, or gaps in, communication regarding the firearms amnesty was raised by several members of the committee.
Chairperson of the committee Shahidabibi Shaikh said at the start of the meeting that the committee would not at this stage take a decision on the request as an updated notice for the amnesty would have to be made to Parliament by the SAPS, as in the current one the dates hand been amended.
Shaikh then explained that the committee had provided clarity on a number of issues, including the importance of people reapplying for expired firearms licences or surrendering unwanted or illegal firearms.
As soon as the updated notice is sent to Parliament, the committee will process the matter.
African News Agency/ANA