Pretoria – Lawsuits against the Police Ministry over its alleged failure to deal with the backlog of firearm applications were unfortunate and would not benefit anyone, says Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa.
The minister was responding to reports of impending court cases against the ministry because of the firearm application backlog and allegations that the problem had reached crisis proportions.
The ministry said the court cases were unfortunate, given that Mthethwa announced a turnaround strategy of the SAPS Central Firearms Registry (CFR) in November last year, and urged gun owner organisations to work with the ministry in clearing the backlogs.
It pointed out that although Mthethwa recently noted progress in the number of firearm licences granted, he also acknowledged that more still needed to be done.
Mthethwa had also tasked the Secretariat of Police with relooking at the reasons for each refusal so that the focus is not only on meeting a deadline but also ensuring compliance with the act.
“For us, what becomes important during this period is not meeting the deadline but ensuring that law-abiding citizens who apply for firearm ownership are granted. It is after all, not our intention to arm every citizen, particularly those who are not fit to own firearms,” Mthethwa said.
“We therefore appeal to all those interested parties to support us as we deal with these backlogs; and, further invite them to approach us if they have anything to contribute to this process. Engaging through courts will not benefit anybody.”
The ministry pointed out that the CFR cannot reverse a refusal without an appeal board decision or a court order. As soon as there is a court order, it takes less than two days to implement it.
In addition, the Appeals Board also deals with cases where the gun owners appeal the CFR’s decision.
In the past month alone, the Appeal Board heard 1 300 cases. In 800 of these cases, the appeal was successful, with the Appeal Board overturning the decision of SAPS.
The ministry said that the legislation was very clear on the requirements for the licence and that it would not compromise those standards. – BuaNews