Gun licence refusal claims disputed by police

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Pretoria - The Police Ministry has dismissed allegations that it refused gun licences to some applicants, even though they complied with the necessary regulations.

The ministry labeled claims made by the Gun Owners of South Africa (GOSA) as "a bit premature" in terms of auditing the improvements being made to the Central Firearms Registry (CFR).

GOSA claimed that 50 percent of gun licence applications were being refused.

Applications for competency were being turned down in instances where gun owners were fully compliant with all proficiencies prescribed by law and had no disqualifying criminal records, it further alleged.

The ministry said GOSA had falsely accused it of not disclosing the turnaround plan, while claiming the implementation of the Firearm Control Act was a billion rand black hole.

The ministry pointed out that last year, the minister acknowledged there were problems with the CFR, which deals with firearm applications and licences, and announced a nine-month turnaround plan.

A task team was also appointed and immediately began zooming in on the challenges.

"As the police leadership, it would have been folly to assume that this will be a quick-fix solution. We remain confident that progress is being made, albeit some teething problems in certain areas which are being ironed out," Mthethwa said.

A reduction in the backlog in the processing of licences, eliminating alleged corruption and rooting out the irregular issuing of licences were all part of the turnaround plan, the ministry said.

Other elements include the redesigning of the CFR systems, IT and operational systems and improving communication with all applicants on an ongoing basis.

"We could never equate a cost to human lives when it comes to fighting crime. The ministry, in its endeavours of ensuring proper control of firearms in this country, is not informed by how much that would cost because our view is premised along an understanding that no monetary value can supersede protection of lives," Mthethwa added.

The Ministry appealed for GOSA's support, saying a process that was still unfolding should not be prejudged.

"Indeed, it remains the ministry's goal to eliminate scores of illegal firearms, which happen to be in the hands of criminals and this can significantly reduce crime across all facets," it added.

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