Mthethwa’s 9-month firearm licence processing target questioned

It would be a miracle if the SA Police Service (SAPS) processed the 800 000 outstanding firearm licence renewals by October 2011, said the Gun Owners of SA (GOSA) association.

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Recently, in the national assembly, Freedom Front Plus (FF Plus’s) Pieter Groenewald asked police minister Nathi Mthethwa how many applications for the renewal of firearm licences the SAPS had received in terms of the Firearm Control Act 60 of 2000 (FCA).

The minister said the figure was 1 365 203. Of this, 499 043 applications had been approved, 15 766 had been denied and 2 009 were currently on appeal. This left over 800 000 applications outstanding. Just recently, Mthethwa told the press that the implementation of the FCA was deeply flawed, and that he had set a nine-month time limit to sort out all problems. GOSA spokesperson Brett Nortje said, “As much as I find Minister Mthethwa to be honest, and a man of integrity, and I’m sure that he’s acting in good faith, he has set himself an impossible task.”

GOSA recommended that South Africa follow Canada’s example. After experiencing the same firearm licensing problems as South Africa is having now, Canada eventually scrapped its central firearm registry.“GOSA recommends that the firearm license renewals process be suspended, that independent auditors then be brought in to audit the implementation of the Act so far, and that the results of this audit be evaluated to determine what can feasibly be salvaged.

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The minister can’t solve the problems by throwing good money after bad,” said Nortje.Groenewald agrees that the nine-month target is insufficient. “What’s also worrying is that there are about 4 million firearms in the country and only 1,3 million applications for relicensing were received,” he added. “More than 2,7 million firearms are therefore still on the old system in terms of the previous Act.

It confirms the view and supports the FF Plus’s proposal to the minister that all old licenses should remain legal and only new purchases of firearms should be licensed in terms of the new Act.”