Mthethwa names heads of firearms inquiry

Pretoria – Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa has named the two officials who will head the inquiry into unscrupulous practices in the firearms trade.

Advocate Rams Ramashia and Soraya Hassim, SC will head the inquiry, where they will be assisted by various counsels in their investigations. Work is expected to commence within the next few weeks, and the minister has given them six weeks to complete this investigation. 

The inquiry will, among others, investigate allegations that certain dealers are not complying with the provisions of the Firearms Control Act, 2000 (Act No. 60 of 2000), and withhold either the entire or a portion of the deposit paid by applicants when the application is either refused or where the refusal is subject to an appeal.

It is also alleged 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.

Firearms for self-defence purposes, such as Norincos and Lorcins, that have defects are said to be sold or offered mainly to applicants who are members of the black population.

The other allegation is 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 investigation will result in a written report to the minister that incorporates findings as well as recommendations.

Hassim currently practices administrative law, dealing with litigation concerning compliance and regulatory matters, constitutional law, public interest law, commercial law and insolvency law, among others. 

Ramashia also brings a wealth of legal experience, having represented the Ministry of Police in various litigation matters, including matters relating to firearm applications, as well as having acted in various matters as briefed by the State Attorney’s office to provide legal opinions.

The Firearms Control 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.

According to the law, 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 dealer’s licence. –