Minister of Police Bheki Cele. File photo: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency (ANA).

JOHANNESBURG - Western Cape Community Safety Minister Albert Fritz said on Wednesday that he welcomes the Gauteng High Court’s Ruling on Electronic Database for Firearms which ordered Police Minister Bheki Cele, and the National Police Commissioner, Khehla Sitole to "implement an electronic database for firearms".

“I welcome this ruling as it will help safeguard the province against the possession and distribution of illegal firearms," said Fritz. 

"It is incredibly reassuring that the high court has ordered Minister Cele and Commissioner Sithole to establish electronic connectivity with all holders of a dealer’s license to the Central Dealers Database, linking the registers which are to be kept by dealers within a period of 48 months."

The court said the order issued on Monday to the police minister and the commissioner must be implemented within four months.

"They were further ordered to establish such electronic connectivity with all holders of manufacturers licenses, gunsmith licenses, and importers and exporters licenses to the relevant central database," said Fritz.

“I call on Minister Cele and Commissioner Sithole to provide the MECs of Community Safety of each province access to this electronic database so to improve their ability to fulfil their constitutional mandate of oversight over SAPS.” 

The Firearms Control Act states that the Central Firearm Register must keep a record of all licensed dealers, manufacturers, gunsmiths, importers and exporters, transporters for reward, accredited institutions, organisations and all firearms and ammunition in their possession.

Firearm dealers must further keep a register of buyers of firearms and ammunition.

Fritz said until the Central Firearm Register is digitised, "tracking the smuggling, loss, theft or mismanagement of firearms becomes a burdensome, if not impossible, task”.

Meanwhile, the Community Safety department in the Western Cape is urging residents to continue making use of the Illegal Firearms Hotline  078 330 9333 to report unlawful guns. 

The department is offering a reward of R10,000 to individuals who provide accurate information on the illegal distribution of firearms.

African News Agency (ANA)