Minister Mthethwa announces a commission of inquiry to investigate unscrupulous dealers in firearms and illegally-operating firearms training institutions

_: Over the past few months, concerns have been raised about the practices of certain unscrupulous firearms dealers, who are not complying with the provisions of the Firearms Control Act, 2000 (Act No. 60 of 2000).

The practice within the firearm dealership fraternity is to collect payment from an applicant for a competency certificate and a licence for a firearm for self-defence purposes, as a deposit pending the processing of the licence application.

The complaints relate to the following:

1. That certain dealers withhold either the entire or a portion of, the deposit paid by the applicant when the application is either refused or where the refusal is subject to an appeal.

2. That certain dealers sell or dispose the firearm for which a deposit has been paid to another person while the application for a firearm is still pending.

3. That firearms for self-defence purposes such as Norincos and Lorcins that have defects are sold or offered mainly to applicants who are members of the black population.

4. That there is collusion between certain firearm dealers with certain members of the Central Firearm Registry in the South African Police Service with the purpose of delaying the processing of the application for a firearm for self-defence purposes or the refusal of such application.

“The above concerns are serious and cannot be brushed off lightly. If proven to be true, they have potential negative indictment and impact on crime-reduction efforts. The proper, correct keeping of registers and the integrity of the Central Firearms Register are essential elements in our fight against crime. As such, any lack of proper controls may lead to a proliferation of unlicenced firearms throughout the country.”

“In order to ensure that the provisions of the Act are properly complied with by the firearm dealers and that alleged malpractices do not take place to the detriment of applicants for firearm licences, I have decided to set up an independent investigation into the practices complained of is conducted,” stated the Minister.

The terms of reference for the investigation will cover the following areas:

1. An investigation into the practices of certain dealers to trade in or sell firearms that are reserved for an applicant for a firearms licence to another person pending the finalization of application for a firearm licence;

2. An investigation into the circumstances or reasons behind the sale of a firearm that is reserved for the applicant for a firearms licence to another person pending the outcome of the firearm licence application;

3. An investigation into the practice by certain dealers to sell or issue training certificates to applicants for a competency certificate to possess a firearm without proper training in the knowledge of the Act and the proper use of a firearm;

4. An extent to which training certificates are issued by non-accredited training institutions;

5. The compliance with criteria for the granting of accreditation to dealers and training institutions; and compliance with the conditions of accreditation;

6. An assessment into the effectiveness of current policies, procedures and practices relating to the dealers and firearms training institutions;

7. The language of instruction and its impact on the trainee with regard to proficiency in the use or handling of firearms and related matters; and

8. any other matter that affects compliance with the Act by dealers and training institutions.
Minister Mthethwa’s decision to set up such a Committee is informed by the Firearms Control Act, 2000 (Act No. 60 of 2000) which empowers him to make regulations on conditions which the Registrar of Firearms may impose on a dealer.

The Act requires that any dealer in firearms must be issued with a dealer’s licence in order to trade-in any firearm or ammunition. The Act also makes provision for the duties of dealers and under this provision, a dealer may trade in firearms or ammunition only on the premises specified in the dealer’s licence.

Dealers may not permit any person to trade in firearms or ammunition on his or her behalf unless that person is in possession of the appropriate competency certificate. They must also keep such registers as prescribed containing such information at the premises specified in the dealers licence.

The Committee will be headed by a Senior Counsel and three other members drawn from the legal fraternity. The appointment process, including announcing the names of Committee chair and members, is at an advanced stage and will be communicated publicly in due course.

The Committee is legislatively empowered with the necessary powers and procedures to execute its mandate in accordance with the terms of reference. It will be given six weeks to complete its work from the time it commences. The investigation will result in a written report to the Minister that incorporates findings as well as recommendations.

For enquiries, please contact:
Zweli Mnisi, Spokesperson to the Minister of Police
Cell: 082 045 4024