Judge orders police to return man’s firearms
A STRANDFONTEIN, Western Cape man turned to the high court in Pretoria in a desperate bid to get his firearms back following claims that the state had failed him during its administrative processes in this regard.
Businessman Alexander Shaheed’s two firearms were confiscated by police in 2014 after his now ex-wife claimed he threatened and assaulted her.
She laid a charge of assault against him, but withdrew it. “She said she would withdraw charges if I agreed to sign the house over to her, which I did.”
Shaheed said after the case was withdrawn, police declared him unfit to possess firearms and they confiscated both his handguns. This was done on the strength of his former wife’s claims and without listening to his explanations that he did nothing wrong.
Shaheed said the “false” allegations by his ex-wife came during their bitter divorce. He accused her in papers before court of “shamelessly” abusing the Domestic Violence Act to obtain an unfair advantage over him in divorce proceedings.
He was declared unfit to possess a firearm for five years.
In terms of the Firearms Control Act, a person can be declared unfit to possess a firearm for a number of reasons, including that he or she has an inclination towards violence.
Shaheed complained that a number of irregularities took place during the inquiry into his suitability to own firearms and that he had an unfair hearing. He claimed he was “ambushed” by police at the time and they refused to listen to his version of events.
He said that if his ex-wife did not withdraw the charges against him, he would have pleaded not guilty. He tried appealing the ruling declaring him unfit to possess firearms before the Firearms Appeal Board, but he lost the appeal.
He accused the board of ignoring his pleas and not having its house in order. He was not given reasons for the refusal of his appeal, he said.
Shaheed referred to a judgment delivered in 2003, in which the judge at the time commented about the inefficiency of the Firearms Control Board. Shaheed said that more than a decade later, “not much has changed in the poor administration”.
He said he was not convicted of any offence and there were no reasons for police to declare him unfit to possess firearms.
Shaheed told the court he needed his firearms to protect himself and his family, as violent crime was prevalent in the country.
He said he was not convicted of any offence
“South Africa is commonly regarded as one of the most dangerous countries in the world to live in,” he noted.
He said although statistics showed that certain categories of crime had gone down, armed, business and household robberies remained prevalent.
“Research has shown that police can do little to curb contact crimes such as murder and assault, and that these crimes can’t be reduced through visible policing such as patrols and roadblocks.”
The area where he lived, close to Mitchells Plain, was dangerous and there was a severe drug culture. He was also an active fisherman, which made him vulnerable when out at sea, he said.
Shaheed said it was his right to be able to safeguard himself and his family.
Judge Wendy Hughes ordered police to immediately return his firearms.