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Keynote Remarks by the Deputy Minister of Police, Hon. Ms. Makhotso Maggie Sotyu (MP) on the Destruction of Illegal Firearms.
09 July 2015

Programme Director,
Mayor of Sedibeng District, Cllr S. Mofokeng
Local Mayor of Emfulweni, Cllr G. Hlongwane
National Commissioner of Police and your Team Media,
All SAPS Core stakeholders (CPFs, etc)
Distinguished Guests,

It is a fact and almost without exception that, firearms are at the center of all instances involving serious violent crime in South Africa. Gangsterism, drug trafficking, aggravated robbery, domestic violence and rape, and police killings are mostly carried out by the use of firearms.
Yes, this destruction of illegal firearms today is said to have been informed by the resolution taken at the SADC Chiefs of Police meeting held in Der Es Salaam, Tanzania, on 15th May 2013; and also by the revised SAPS Strategic Plan 2010-2014.

Fundamentally, though, the importance of the Firearms Control Act as being amended cannot be more emphasized. This is one piece of legislation that still demonstrates that this ANC-led Government has an unequivocal commitment to the values and the spirit of our Constitution on which our democracy is based.

The Firearms Control Act is aimed at strict and efficient gun control. Its ultimate goal is to disarm criminals, discourage potential unstable use of firearms, stop illegal trafficking of firearms, and to confiscate unlicensed guns.

Contrary to the cries that, through this Legislation, the Government is limiting the rights of citizens to protect themselves, this Act was not formulated to compromise the rights of civilians to defend themselves.

However, it is a fact that this Legislation’s long-term goal, as Amended, is to improve policing and public security so that the factors that drive people to possess weapons for self-defense are reduced as stated in Section 2 (a).

Crime statistics are continuously helping the police to meet their targets when combating violent crime, contrary to the allegations that say, “crime statistics are being manipulated to indicate SAPS achievements in tackling crime”.

People need to start to acknowledge that Police do not use crime statistics solely for measuring violent crimes. Crime statistics are predominantly used for effective planning and operational purposes.

For example, way back in 2003 already, after the SAPS top management perused the statistical data, they saw a trend in the form of indicator that the majority of violent crimes are committed using firearms.

Various operations were then launched to give momentum to the SAPS firearms strategy, aiming at the proliferation of firearms and their use in crime and violence.

Previous Operations such as Sethunya, Tswikila, Rachel have all been successful initiatives by SAPS, showing that the intentions of this ANC-led Government have always been to vigorously reduce the number of firearms and to institute better and efficient regulations regarding ownership, possession and use of firearms.

The accompanying regulations have been created to sensitize legal gun-owners about the Firearms Control Act. Most importantly, though, is that the regulations are there to tighten up provisions to be used when implementing this Legislation.

Competency training, and background evaluation are some of the critical provisions that have made this Act as comprehensive and as efficient in accreditation of a potential licensed gun owner.

The current system requires the Designated Firearms Officer (DFO) to evaluate the applicant’s physical and psychological fitness to possess a firearm. This includes the requirement that people close to the applicant be consulted before the issuance of a firearm license.

Notwithstanding, as the SAPS Leadership, we have also acknowledged the challenge with the DFO’s overall mandate, and related concerns with capacity to do his/her job.

After undertaking a fact-finding visit to the Central Firearms Registry (CFR) on 13th March 2015, we have decided as the Ministry to put some short-term measures of hiring intern graduates to address the shortage of personnel at some sections within the CFR, and across the Provinces.

The long-term plans will include addressing issues of organizational restructuring; infrastructure; systems management; and a permanent human capacity.
It must also be indicated here that, the SAPS Management has also a zero-tolerant stance with corrupt officials within the CFR. For instance, we just welcomed a 13-year prison sentence handed down to a former Pretoria Central Police Station Captain, a former Designated Firearms Officer (DFO), for 30 counts of corruption.

He was found to have fraudulently sold various falsified firearm training certificates, firearm competency certificates and firearm licenses. In total, the SAPS have thus far suspended 20 people, of which 3 has already been dismissed, including this Captain from Pretoria Central Station.

Obviously and rightly so, this zero-tolerance on corruption will continue to make it difficult for those people with criminal records, domestic violence history, and psychological/emotional or mental disturbance to get a firearm license as indicated in the Act.

The onus is thus also on gun dealers to always advice potential firearm buyers to undergo the whole procedure of competency test and accreditation procedures before they can pay for their firearms, training, safes, and revenue stamps.

It is critical if not imperative that there is a strong partnership between all law-enforcement agencies and the broader civil society in addressing firearm-related violent crime.

We thus welcome recommendations by some sectors, who have requested the Ministry of Police to consider holding a national firearms amnesty for a period of at least six months, in support of mopping up and destroying illegal guns, and to stop the flow of legal guns into the illegal pool.

SAFA is one of those sectors that made this recommendation. We will thus consider this, especially now that the Amendment of the Firearms Control Act is currently within the Parliamentary process.

Through the amended legislation, a concrete mechanism also has to be set up for effective coordination when Private Security Companies are registering with the Private Security Industry Regulatory Authority (PSIRA) and applying for firearms from the South African Police Service DFO.

Through effective management systems, SAPS will be able to either trace or collect firearms when a Private Security Company closes down.

The Firearm destruction programmes like today, are a demonstrative resolve that the ANC-led Government is succeeding in retrieving guns from criminals and gangsters. This is a progressive step towards creating a safe environment for all in South Africa.

I thank you all.


Ms Nomsa Hani
Head of Office & Spokesperson
Office of the Deputy Minister of Police
Ministry of Police
Private Bag X463
Tel: +27 12 3934469 / 21 4677023
Fax: +27 12 3934469 / 21 4614174
Cell: +27 (0) 82 772 2053

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