Gun amnesty to go ahead

The Star Early Edition - - POLITICS - MAY­I­BONGWE MAQHINA

THE Na­tional Coun­cil of Prov­inces (NCOP) has given the green light for the firearms amnesty announced by the Depart­ment of Po­lice a few months ago.

At a ple­nary sit­ting yes­ter­day, the se­lect com­mit­tee on se­cu­rity and jus­tice rec­om­mended to the NCOP that the draft no­tice on dec­la­ra­tion of firearms amnesty be ap­proved.

The amnesty, mooted while for­mer min­is­ter Nathi Nh­leko headed the depart­ment, aims to re­duce il­le­gally pos­sessed firearms and grant amnesty to peo­ple sur­ren­der­ing their weapons.

It is hoped that the ini­tia­tive will help re­duce the in­ci­dents of crime.

Brief­ing the NCOP ple­nary sit­ting yes­ter­day, com­mit­tee chair­per­son Du­misani Ximbi said Nh­leko had de­clared an amnesty from April this year un­til Septem­ber 30, but the no­tice was only tabled in Par­lia­ment in March.

“Par­lia­ment was un­able to con­sider the mat­ter be­fore the end of the first term,” Ximbi said.

The amnesty can only be valid if it is ap­proved by Par­lia­ment, and it must spec­ify the pe­riod peo­ple can ap­ply for amnesty and the con­di­tions un­der which it may be granted.

Al­though the amnesty pe­riod in the draft no­tice refers to the pe­riod be­tween Au­gust 2017 and Jan­uary 2018, the SAPS pre­vi­ously told the com­mit­tee at a meet­ing in June that the six-month pe­riod would start in Novem­ber and would cover both li­censed and un­li­censed firearm own­ers.

Ximbi said the com­mit­tee had been in­formed by the SAPS that in­creased num­bers of firearms were sur­ren­dered dur­ing pre­vi­ous amnesties.

A to­tal of 80 454 firearms were sur­ren­dered in 2005 and a fur­ther 42 329 in 2010.

Ximbi said firearms would be able to be sur­ren­dered at any po­lice sta­tion and po­lice had been briefed on the con­di­tions of the amnesty.

The SAPS would em­bark on a cam­paign to make the pub­lic aware of the amnesty, Ximbi said.

The DA’s Cath­lene Labuschagne said her party sup­ported the firearms amnesty. She warned the po­lice min­is­ter that the amnesty was not enough to ad­dress crime.

She said po­lice should en­sure sur­ren­dered weapons did not end up in the wrong hands, used in il­le­gal ac­tiv­i­ties.

In terms of the pro­posed amnesty, a writ­ten ap­pli­ca­tion for amnesty must be handed in at a po­lice sta­tion giv­ing de­tails and iden­ti­fy­ing the firearm and am­mu­ni­tion.

“The firearm and am­mu­ni­tion must be sur­ren­dered to a mem­ber of the po­lice, who must is­sue a re­ceipt.” Firearms will be bal­lis­ti­cally tested.

Should the ap­pli­cant wish to ap­ply for a li­cence for the firearm or am­mu­ni­tion, the ap­pli­ca­tion must be lodged within 14 days from the date of sur­ren­der­ing the firearm.

It is is hoped the ini­tia­tive will help re­duce crime

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