Judge orders po­lice to re­turn man’s firearms

The Star Early Edition - - NEWS - ZELDA VEN­TER

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.

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