Almost 1500 guns surrendered in first month of firearm amnesty
DURBAN - Thousands of firearms and rounds of ammunition had been handed in at designated police stations as the first month of the firearms amnesty drew to a close, police said.
"As firearms are the instruments commonly used in the commission of crime, especially violent crimes, it is very encouraging that people have taken advantage of this amnesty period and handed in 1465 guns and 14 861 rounds of ammunition," said Brigadier Vishnu Naidoo on Tuesday.
Surrendered firearms included 1248 handguns, 75 shotguns and 142 rifles.
Naidoo said that while the majority of the firearms had been handed in for destruction, police had also received applications for the relicensing of 264 firearms that had their licences terminated in terms of Section 28 of the Firearm Control Act, and for 247 handguns (revolvers and pistols), eight shotguns and nine rifles.
The firearm amnesty started on December 1 and ends on May 31, 2020.
"People that are illegally in possession of firearms and ammunition are being encouraged to take advantage of this amnesty period to hand over such guns without fear of prosecution. However, any person that hands over a firearm that has been used in the commission of a crime will not enjoy such exoneration," said Naidoo.
All firearms that had been or were being handed in would undergo ballistic testing to ensure they had not been used in the commission of crimes. Thereafter, they would be considered for destruction.
Police had made adequate provision for the safe-keeping of all surrendered firearms, said Naidoo.
There were nine centralised storage facilities in all provinces that had been subjected to risk assessment, he added.
"The designated amnesty officials and SAPS officials have been subjected to thorough screening and vetting and only those that meet the identified criteria have been appointed to handle amnesty firearms handed in."
A detective investigative team had been established to investigate cases of firearms linked to crimes.
When the amnesty period ended, firearms would be audited for the purpose of destruction.
"The process for the destruction of firearms will then be followed to destroy amnesty firearms, firearm parts, and ammunition, as was done when the SAPS smelted over 20 thousand illegal firearms on November 5."
Naidoo said police were confident that more citizens would come forward with illegal and unwanted guns.
An enquiry desk at the central firearm register call centre had been established to handle all enquiries related to the amnesty, and could be reached on 012 353 6111.
African News Agency (ANA)