There is possibly some good news for firearm owners whose licences have expired. In response to a parliamentary question to the Minister of Police, Bheki Cele, about whether he would consider granting a further amnesty period for turning in firearms, the Minister said that such a request is "reasonable".
Minister Cele said that the second and last amnesty period was seriously disrupted and that many firearm owners were affected by this. He also added that there is a lot of "paperwork" from the previous amnesty period, which ended on the 31st of January this year, that still needs to be finalised.
The chaos surrounding the administrative process of finalising applications for the renewal of firearm licences became evident two weeks ago during a parliamentary investigation into the matter.
The national Police Commissioner, Gen. Khehla Sitole, and his team of generals were not even able to tell the Portfolio Committee on Police how many firearms were turned in during the last amnesty period.
As a result, the Committee wrote to the Minister about the problems with the amnesty figures as well as the police's apparent inability to clear the great backlogs at the Central Firearms Register, particularly the thousands of licence renewal applications submitted by firearm owners whose licences had expired.
The high crime rate in South Africa, especially as regards violent crime, is alarming and it would be unfair to unarm law-abiding citizens for the sake of criminals, who will surely not turn in their firearms, regardless of amnesty.
Some of the recurring problems include a lack of prescribed forms and police personnel to do the work.
Given the onslaught against farmers, it is especially important that they are afforded a fair opportunity to renew their licences.
The FF Plus finds the Minister's response encouraging, but is of the opinion that he has no other choice given the incompetent manner in which the police handled the entire amnesty process.