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Constitutional Court finds in favour of gun owners who failed to renew firearm licences before expiration

The Constitutional Court has found in favour of all South African gun owners who failed to renew their firearm licences. Picture: File

The Constitutional Court has found in favour of all South African gun owners who failed to renew their firearm licences. Picture: File

Published May 27, 2022

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Pretoria - In a groundbreaking judgment today, the Constitutional Court found in favour of all South African gun owners who failed to renew their firearm licences before their expiration.

The court determined that those who were unable to renew their firearm licences in time and were subsequently barred from further obtaining a valid licence, are allowed to follow the processes as stipulated in the Firearms Control Act to obtain a valid firearm licence for such firearms.

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The application was earlier initiated by Fidelity Security Services, who turned to the Gauteng High Court, Pretoria, as it was unable to renew hundreds of its firearms as its licences had lapsed.

The police refused to renew the lapsed licences and the only option open for Fidelity at the time was to either have their firearms destroyed or to fight the issue in court.

The high court turned down its application to interdict the SAPS from refusing to renew the licences and the judge at the time said the law had to be followed, which said firearm owners had to apply 90 days prior for a new licence, before the old ones had lapsed.

Fidelity, however, scored a subsequent victory in Supreme Court of Appeal, which found that the Firearms Control Act did make provision for a person to renew a lapsed firearm licence.

The police minister took this issue to the Constitutional Court, which upheld the finding of the SCA.

It confirmed the prior judgment handed down by the Supreme Court of Appeal in that a firearm, whether licensed or not, is the property of the owner until it is destroyed in terms of the respective legislative provisions.

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This is also a confirmation of the property rights gun owners possess in respect of their firearms as envisaged in section 25 of the Constitution, irrespective of their licensing status, Armand Greyling, Legal and Risk Officer at AfriForum said.

He confirmed that although Fidelity had initiated the application, the order was also a victory to all gun owners with expired licences.

“We are thrilled about this news and trust that the minister of police will issue directives and promulgate regulations as soon as possible to give effect and reflect the Constitutional Court’s judgment,” he said.

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“AfriForum has been inundated with queries and complaints from gun owners over the past few years who have had their weapons confiscated and subsequently destroyed by the SAPS due to late renewal applications and a clearly incorrect interpretation of the legislation. This judgment makes it clear that this practice is now in contradiction with the provisions of the Firearms Control Act,” Greyling said.

According to him AfriForum will monitor and place pressure on the minister to clarify the processes to be followed by gun owners to renew their expired licenses as a matter of urgency.

Pretoria News

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