NATIONAL NEWS - The family farmer organisation, Saai, on 20 January requested the Minister of Police to extend the deadline for firearm licence amnesty applications with three months.
This is against the background of the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic and the disruptive impact thereof on the functioning of the police.
The amnesty period ends on 31 January.
According to the Chairperson of the Saai Board of Directors, Dr Theo de Jager, the Covid-19 regulations, fear of spreading the virus, and police officers being absent as a result of infections, are factors derailing the amnesty period for firearm licences.
“Police offices in rural areas often have a shortage of the different prescribed forms needed to apply for amnesty. Load shedding and continuous maintenance of systems also cause computer systems to be offline regularly, while the absence of the necessary officials further disrupts the amnesty process,” he says.
De Jager is also President of the World Agricultural Organisation.
Saai is concerned about the capacity of the SAPS to process the amnesty applications within a reasonable period and to return the correct firearms undamaged to the rightful owners.
“Certain Saai members had to return to police offices up to seven times and had to wait several hours for their applications to be processed unsuccessfully. Covid-19 is mostly blamed for this and it is precisely for this reason that the period for applications ought to be extended,” De Jager states.
He says one of the biggest obstacles is the requirement that firearms must be handed in at the SAPS for the duration of the amnesty process.
“Taking into account the high rural crime rate and increase in farm attacks, cattle theft, crop theft and poaching of game, it simply doesn’t make sense to leave farmers unarmed on their farms while they are waiting for their firearms to be licensed.
"Saai’s proposal that farmers must be allowed to keep their firearms and only hand it in once the SAPS is ready for ballistics testing has however fallen on deaf ears.”
As a result of the value of firearms and especially expensive hunting rifles, Saai is strongly recommending firearm owners to take photos of their firearms to serve as proof of the condition of the firearms upon the process of handing it in.
Firearm owners who are concerned that they are being disadvantaged during the amnesty process, can contact Saai at 066 071 6094.
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