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              SAGA Update Re: Expired Licenses

On Friday 22nd June 2018, representatives from a number of firearm organizations including SAGA, met with the SAPS Legal Department.

Although the meeting was an extremely positive one in that a number of workable solutions and submissions were made to the SAPS legal department, SAPS legal can only advise the National Commissioner.

We expect that there will be further interactions going forward with the SAPS legal department, and hopefully a good relationship has been established.

The only real solution going forward would be an amendment to the Firearms Control Act, but this will take time and perhaps a number of years before it comes to fruition.

In the meanwhile we will continue to engage with SAPS, and the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Police.

We also need the support of all firearm owners, and of civil society. As firearm owners we need to become more united so that we can coherently and uniformly deal with issues such as expired firearm licenses, as well as further issues going forward.

All the various firearm organizations are communicating with one another and are trying to find a solution to the problem faced by some 430 000 persons who have expired licenses and find themselves in this predicament.

SAGA reiterates once more, that to the best of our knowledge and belief, no Directive has been sent out by the National Commissioner, and it appears at this stage that the Police are trying to ascertain whether they can implement the Constitutional Court decision and whether they have the capacity to do so.

SAGA will continue to keep our members updated on this issue.

The SAGA Trust





Dear SAGA Members,

Certainly the last week or so has been extremely "interesting" with respect to firearm related matters, specifically with regards to the expired firearm licence issue.

Although SAGA has written to the National Commissioner and General Masemola, requesting the final directive, to date the Directive has not been received.

Over the weekend of 16th – 17th June 2018, two Provincial Circulars were received, one from Limpopo and one from the Western Cape.

During the course of this week, further internal circulars between the National Commissioner and SAPS Legal Department and with instructions to the Provincial Commissioners, have also surfaced.

The various SAPS communications and circulars are available below this notice.

SAGA is also aware that SAPS have had various meetings from DFO to Provincial office level concerning the Con Court decision and the process to be followed, should the Directive be issued.

To date, we wish to emphasize that no specific directive or instruction has yet been issued by the National Commissioner that we are aware of,   advising the various structures within the SAPS to proceed with the implementation of the Con Court judgment with respect to expired firearm licences.

Until we have further clarity herein, we advise all SAGA members with expired firearm licences, to keep their firearms locked in their safes and not to carry or utilise firearms with expired licences at all.

We will keep all members posted on this extremely important matter.

Terminated Licences Detail Procedures
Terminated Licences Detail Procedures
Terminated Licences Detail Procedures (1).pdf (202.01KB)
Terminated Licences Detail Procedures
Terminated Licences Detail Procedures
Terminated Licences Detail Procedures (1).pdf (202.01KB)

 

PC's Instuction relating to processing of terminated licences
PC's Instuction relating to processing of terminated licences
PC Instuction relating to processing of terminated licences.pdf (63.72KB)
PC's Instuction relating to processing of terminated licences
PC's Instuction relating to processing of terminated licences
PC Instuction relating to processing of terminated licences.pdf (63.72KB)



 Dear Member,

SAGA Trustees, John Welch and Damian Enslin, attended the Parliamentary session of the Portfolio Committee on Police (PCoP) on 14th June 2018. The recent Constitutional Court decision handed down on the 7th June 2018 and the Firearm Amnesty were discussed.

With respect to the Firearm Amnesty, it appears that this is not on the near horizon and according to the National Commissioner, General Sithole, the two processes are completely separate i.e. the process in dealing with the Constitutional Court decision about expired firearm licences will be dealt with separately to the Firearm Amnesty process, if and when the Firearm Amnesty proceeds.

The National Commissioner, was at pains to emphasise the fact that SAPS would not be treating anyone with expired licences as a criminal and all they wanted was everyone’s co-operation.

There were various questions put to the National Commissioner and SAPS by the Members of the PCoP and some of the Members enquired with the National Commissioner about the possibility of issuing Section 21 permits to persons who are in possession of firearms with expired firearm licences. However the National Commissioner and General Masemola (the Head of Visible Policing) were not prepared to give a finite answer as to whether Section 21 permits would be issued.

What they did ask for, was for the co-operation of all parties when the Directive, which is apparently due today, is released.

The National Commissioner as well as General Masemola advised that they will be engaging with stakeholders throughout the process and will assess the process in 3 months and 6 months respectively.

Once more, SAPS emphasised that they do not want to arrest people for being in possession of a firearm with an expired licence and that there will be a process going forward.

Further questions were put to the National Commissioner and General Masemola by the Members of the PCoP about whether SAPS had the capacity and administrative means to deal with the influx of upwards of 400 000 persons surrendering firearms, and whether these firearms would be secured. This was not really adequately addressed by SAPS.

The National Commissioner confirmed that the old / green licence cards issued in terms of the Arms and Ammunitions Act 2 of 1969 are still valid.

The National Commissioner also confirmed, that although a Firearm Amnesty had been pronounced by the Minister, this however excluded the Judgment of the Constitutional Court on expired firearm licences.

Our members may recall that one of the aspects of the Firearm Amnesty was the inclusion of those with expired firearm licences and now it appears that this will no longer be the case.

We should know the content of the Directive today and will keep everyone updated with respect to this very important situation.

SAGA Portfolio Committee Update: 15 JUNE 2018
SAGA Portfolio Committee Update: 15 JUNE 2018
SAGA Portfolio Committee Update 15 JUNE 2018.pdf (108.73KB)
SAGA Portfolio Committee Update: 15 JUNE 2018
SAGA Portfolio Committee Update: 15 JUNE 2018
SAGA Portfolio Committee Update 15 JUNE 2018.pdf (108.73KB)


Dear SAGA Member,
On Friday the 8th June 2018 at 09:47 we sent out a Media Release concerning the Constitutional Court Judgement from the 7th June 2018.
This version of the Media Release unfortunately had a number of mistakes and was amended, but the incorrect version was distributed in error.
The below Media Release is the one that should have been distributed. We apologise for any inconvenience caused.

The SAGA Trust
Media Statement: Constitutional Court Judgment
For immediate release 8 June 2018
Yesterday morning, 7 June 2018, the Constitutional Court (by Froneman J) delivered judgment in the matter where SA Hunters and Game Conservation Association (SA Hunters) in the North Gauteng High Court sought, and was granted a ruling that sections 24 and 28 of the Firearms Control Act, No. 60 of 2000, were constitutionally invalid. The trial court had found the provisions invalid on the basis of their being (i) irrational and vague; (ii) breaching the right of equality; and (iii) in violation of the protection of property rights in the Constitution.

The Constitutional Court ruled that neither of the provisions was irrational or vague since the constitutional validity of the licensing process and the criminalisation of unlawful possession upon termination of a license were unchallenged and that, accordingly, "non-compliance with the licensing process (was) leading to unlawful possession and criminalisation". Justice Froneman was rather critical in his approach where he said: "The gun-owner knows that he must either apply in time for renewal or dispose of the firearm before expiry". According to him the rule of law requirements of clarity and certainty were clearly met. The court then also rejected the contention that there are no lawful means to dispose of a firearm after termination of the license.

In rejecting the argument about inequality of treatment under section 28, the court ruled that since a license terminates at the end of a prescribed period (dependent on the type of license), no administrative action was required since the license expires by operation of law. This termination differs from other forms or license termination.
With regards to the deprivation of property argument the court ruled that the deprivation is not arbitrary since there is a compensation regime for surrendered firearms. 
A single-line summary of the judgment is: "It is not a right to own firearms in South Africa, it is a privilege – it is your responsibility to timeously renew your license or otherwise dispose of the firearm according to the law".

In reality the highest court in the land has now ruled that persons who have not renewed their licenses and have not disposed of them, are in illegal possession thereof. Before rushing off to your closest police station to surrender your unlicensed firearm, we suggest that you wait a few days for the police's reaction. We suspect that the Minister or National Commissioner will soon distribute a directive informing affected persons what to do. There is currently a police instruction stipulating that persons who have failed to renew their licenses must not be prosecuted, hence we believe further instructions will be given.

If no such guidelines are forthcoming, we propose you hold onto your firearm and wait for the amnesty declaration. However, we do not know when it will come into operation – in fact it is yet to be approved by parliament. Although we are extremely concerned about corruption and the theft and robbery of firearms at police stations, there is no other alternative and firearms may only be surrendered to the police. No unlicensed firearms may be disposed of through licensed firearm dealers or gunsmiths. You will also not be able to deactivate or destroy the firearm, as such a process involves a gunsmith, and this can only be attended to with a licensed firearm. 

Persons who have never applied for licenses under the Firearms Control Act and who are still in possession of the "green" licenses issued under the previous Act, are, in our view, still covered by the judgment of the North Gauteng High Court of 26 June 2009. However, where a person has applied for and was issued with a "white" license under the Firearms Control Act, but this has expired, in light of the Constitutional Court judgment, it is probable, that such a person could not fall back on the "green" license that he/she still happens to have. SAGA is aware that there are arguments to the contrary, however, but we are wary to rely thereon.

SAGA will soon be meeting with SAPS with a view to clarifying matters, especially the proposed amnesty and the enforcement of the law after the Constitutional Court judgment.
In the meanwhile we urge members to ensure compliance with the law and make sure they apply for renewal of licenses not less than 90 days before the expiry thereof. Also, should you wish to surrender a firearm during the amnesty period, we strongly advise against carrying or using it.
Advocate John Welch

Media Statement: Constitutional Court Judgment
Media Statement: Constitutional Court Judgment 8 June 2018
SAGA Con Court Judgment 8 Jun2018.pdf (521.6KB)
Media Statement: Constitutional Court Judgment
Media Statement: Constitutional Court Judgment 8 June 2018
SAGA Con Court Judgment 8 Jun2018.pdf (521.6KB)

 

 

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WHAT IS SAGA ABOUT

The South African Gunowners' Association (SAGA) is a non-profit, non-discriminatory organization, whose sole purpose is to represent the interests of all people who embrace the principles of safe and responsible ownership and usage of firearms for sport, recreation, hunting and self-defence.
        
SAGA is the watchdog that endeavours to safeguard the rights of the South African public by engaging government in discussion regarding firearm related issues and to provide technical assistance and expertise where needed. This is achieved by collecting and disseminating information regarding all aspects of the legitimate use of firearms. This is to enable responsible, non-discriminatory and enforceable legislation that would benefit all South Africans, irrespective of race, colour or creed.

World Forum on Shooting Activities  (WFSA)

The World Forum on Sport Shooting Activities (WFSA) is an ECOSOC NGO at United Nations representing over 100 million hunters and sport shooters.  We also represent most of the major civilian firearms and ammunition manufacturers. SAGA is a paid up voting member and is represented on the EXCO.

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