The uncertainty about the situations is fuelled by the actions of some associations that claim that the old green licence is still valid if your white card licence expired. They base their views on a legal opinion. For some time, SA Hunters has been on record that we do not agree with that opinion. Some associations comment on an amnesty and alternative processes that are being considered.
While the SAPS keeps silent, except for Brigadier Vish Naidoo that made certain statements, there is uncertainty about what the SAPS is doing, what it has been instructed or is expected to do.
During the weekend, a set of guidelines – apparently from Limpopo Province - was released. It describes a plan for the handing in of firearms. The document, issued in the name of Gen. Masemola, was not signed and was riddled with spelling and typing errors. I doubt if it is legitimate. If it is, it still does not provide guidelines to the public on how to deal with the matter.
News report speculated about the matter and caused further confusion and uncertainty. Many people took their firearms to police stations. Until last Friday, the police turned people away that wanted to surrender their firearms because they also did not know what to do.
Amid all this confusion, firearm owners and SA Hunters’ members are uncertain about what to do and a sense of panic has emerged. Sit tight, relax and read the rest of this newsletter from SA Hunters carefully to the very end.
The following recommendations are for all firearm owners whose white card licences expired. I also address general remarks that are circulating, and I give advice on the next steps.
Do not do anything now. Lock away the firearm of which the white card licence expired. Do not use it or travel with it. Keep it locked away in your safe. Wait until we have more certainty when we will inform you of the appropriate action.
Why this recommendation? The police also do not know what to do and they have not yet received clear instructions from the head office That explains why some people that want to surrender their firearms are turned away while others’ firearms are taken in.
Keep in mind that there are nearly 470 000 firearms of which the licences expired. The police do not have the capacity, manpower and safe storage to do the required ballistic tests and keep the firearms safely.
As soon as we have reliable information about the situation, we will inform SA Hunters’ members on what to do. Please read all our newsletters to ensure that you are up to date with the latest developments.
If you had an old green licence for your firearm and you re-applied for the white card licence, the old green licence is no longer valid, even if others tell you differently. Until the opposite is proven without any doubt (most probably through a high court application) SA Hunters will stick to this opinion. Meanwhile, ignore any other advice in this regard.
If you have a firearm that is still licensed with the old green licence and you never applied for a white card licence, (green card, green sticker in green ID book, green sticker in old blue ID book or even a handwritten licence that was added to the old blue ID book) that green licence is still valid, and you are legally in possession of your firearm. There is no doubt about this.
The chances are slim that any individual with a firearm of which the white licence expired, would be prosecuted and sent to jail. The police have no clarity on what to do. Until they receive clear instructions, they are not expected to act.
We trust that the police will inform the public properly as soon as they receive clear instructions on the handling of the matter.
As we said before, there are approximately 470 000 firearms of which the licences expired. Most of these firearms are for self-defence (and are probably handguns). It is impossible for the police to prosecute so many people because they do not have the capacity to do so.
There are individuals that use social media to actively encourage civil disobedience and incite firearm owners not to surrender their firearms when told to do so. Do not get carried away or intimidated by these people and their calls. You put yourself at risk to be prosecuted eventually. We cannot resolve this issue through civil disobedience.
Do not try to hand in your firearm of which the licence expired at a firearms dealer. The dealer may not take possession of an unlicensed firearm.
You may hand in a legally licensed firearm at a dealer.
Do not damage, cut, bend the barrel, remove the firing pin or do anything to render the firearm dysfunctional before handing it in.We know there are people that consider damaging their firearms before handing it in. It is illegal to make any alterations to a firearm.
According to the SAPS all surrendered firearms will be subjected to ballistic tests to determine if the firearm has been used in criminal activities. If you damage the firearm, you could be prosecuted. Section 59 of the Act determines that only a registered gun smith may make changes to a firearm. Regulation 105 (13) says no person may deactivate a firearm without prior authorisation from the Registrar.
Remember, the onus is on the police to inform the public thoroughly about the Act and any related actions that should be taken. Until that has been done, the police cannot act against a member of the public. Section 124 of the Act requires the following:
“The Registrar must –
(g) conduct public education programmes concerning provisions of this Act and all other matters relating to the safe possession and use of firearms.
Should the police act against you or force you to do anything, contact me immediately by phoning the SA Hunters national office at (012) 808 9300. If I cannot take your call, please leave a message with a staff member and I will call you back. When you phone us, or if I phone you, be prepared to provide your SA Hunters membership number and to confirm that your membership is current, and your fees are fully paid-up. I have an obligation towards active members of SA Hunters, and not to anyone else.
Remember that your personal profile on the SA Hunters membership database allows you to enter your firearm’s details. It includes the expiry date of your licence. Our system will send you an SMS 120 days prior to the expiry date of your licence and then again another reminder on roundabout 10 days before your renewal is due (100 days before the licence expires).
Remember that the Section 16 firearm licence granted to persons with Dedicated Status (hunter or sport shooter) depends on maintaining your dedicated status. Firearm owners with Section 16 licences may have more than 200 rounds in possession. This does not apply to persons with dedicated status that have firearms issued with Section 13 or Section 15 licences. They are restricted to a maximum of 200 rounds of ammunition.
There might be individuals that no longer want to keep the firearms of which the licences expired. As soon as there is clarity on the situation, you are free to surrender such firearms.
I am aware that my newsletters are widely distributed to individuals via social media (Facebook). I friendly request you not to distribute this message to persons that are not members of SA Hunters and not to publish it on social media.