Dangerous Weapons Bill before Parliament

A draft bill to empower the SAPS to arrest people carrying dangerous weapons during public gatherings came before Parliament on Tuesday, 12 February.

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The Police Minister, Nathi Mthethwa said the Dangerous Weapons Bill will repeal all existing legislation and will apply to the whole country, including the former apartheid-era “homelands,” which had their own sets of legislation. Addressing the portfolio committee on police, Mthethwa said the Dangerous Weapons Bill would outlaw the possession of any weapon, object, or replica in instances where there was an intention to use it for an unlawful purpose, Sapa reported.

"The bill seeks to prohibit the carrying of firearms and objects which resemble firearms, dangerous weapons, and objects likely to cause injury or damage to property at a demonstration or gathering," said Mthethwa. In terms of the bill, objects, such as bricks and glass bottles, would be considered to be weapons, as they could injure people or cause damage to property.

Mthethwa would be given the power to regulate what dangerous weapons could or could not be carried in public. Religious and cultural gatherings would, however, be exempt. Mthethwa and Police Secretary Jenni Irish-Qhobosheane denied the legislation was aimed at leaving people defenceless against criminals.

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"What the new bill seeks to do is not to prevent people from carrying items like pepper spray, as reported in the media, but rather an attempt to harmonise our approach to dangerous weapons into a single piece of legislation and to base this on best international practice," Mthethwa said.