The National Council of Provinces (NCOP) has unanimously approved another firearm amnesty period with the support of all nine provinces. The Select Committee on Security and Justice brought its report to the House requesting the final approval for a six months amnesty period from the 1st of August to the 31st of January next year.
This comes as Police Minister Bheki Cele proposed a new amnesty period in terms of the Fire Arms Control Act. The previous six months amnesty period which commenced in December last year,- ended at the end of May this year during the lockdown period.
Both the NCOP and the National Assembly have to approve the proposal before a new amnesty period can be reopened.
Select Committee Chairperson Shahidabibi Shaikh tabled the report to the NCOP requesting final approval.
“The committee supported the new dates for amnesty because it believes that the amnesty will add value to the reduction of illegal firearms and crime levels in our country. Honourable Chair, the Select Committee after consideration approved the Minister’s request for an amnesty period and recommends that the National Council of Provinces approve the Amnesty period as tabled for the 1st of October 2020 to the 31st of January 2021.”
In the above statement Shaikh said the amnesty period will run from 1st October, but later corrected the mistake saying the new period for the firearms amnesty will commence on 1 August 2020 for six months, and not in October.
“I believe the firearms amnesty is the correct approach by the SAPS. I mistakenly today in my speech in Parliament referred to the start of the amnesty period as October 2020. The public must please take note of the correct date.”
Shaikh also said the aim of the amnesty was 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 to promote safety, to address the fundamental causes of crime in order to effectively protect our communities, and to ensure people living in South Africa feel safe and have no fear of crime.
In January, the South African Policing Union (SAPU) called on Police Minister Bheki Cele to cancel the firearm amnesty.
The union deems it problematic and says it undermines accountability.
However, in April some firearm owners petitioned the Minister to consider extending the amnesty.
They said many gun owners were finding it difficult to take advantage of the amnesty, which expired at the end of May, during lockdown regulations.
In the file video below, fewer people handing in firearms during the amnesty due to lockdown:
This story was updated to reflect the correct date of the amnesty period.