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Firearm amnesty proposal approved

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The amnesty seeks to reduce the number of firearms that have been obtained illegally and grant amnesty to persons surrendering these weapons

File image. Photo: SAPS

THE National Council of Provinces (NCOP) has given the go-ahead for a firearms amnesty that was proposed by the Police Department a few months ago.

At a plenary sitting yesterday, the select committee on security and justice recommended to the NCOP that the draft notice on the declaration of a firearms amnesty be approved.

The amnesty, which was mooted when Nathi Nhleko was police minister, seeks to reduce the number of firearms that have been illegally obtained and to grant amnesty to persons surrendering these weapons.

Members expressed the hope that the initiative would help reduce incidences of crime in the country.

Briefing the NCOP plenary sitting yesterday, committee chairperson, Dumisani Ximbi said Nhleko had declared an amnesty from April 2017 until September 30, 2017, but the notice had been tabled in Parliament only in March.

“Parliament was unable to consider the matter before the end of the first term,” Ximbi said.

Amnesty

The amnesty can only be valid if it is approved by Parliament, and it must specify the period in which applications can be made for amnesty, and the conditions under which amnesty may be granted.

Although the amnesty period mentioned in the draft notice is set between August 2017 and January 2018, SAPS previously told the committee at a meeting in June that the six-month period would start in November.

Ximbi said the committee had been informed by SAPS that during previous amnesties, increased numbers of firearms had been surrendered.

A total of 80454 firearms were surrendered in 2005 and a further 42329 in 2010.

Ximbi said people will be able to surrender firearms at any police station and that the police had been briefed on the conditions of the amnesty.

The DA’s Cathlene Labuschagne said her party would support the amnesty because of the many instances of crime in the country.