Police Deputy Minister Cassel Mathale and National Police Commissioner, General Khehla Sitole, on Tuesday witnessed the destruction of over 23 000 firearms, which were either confiscated or surrendered to the State.
The destruction of the weapons took place at Arcelor Mittal Steel in Vereeniging, Gauteng.
The proliferation of illegal firearms has been dealt a blow as more than half of the destroyed firearms were confiscated by the police during intelligence driven operations, routine stop and searches as well as tip-offs from law abiding citizens.
The South African Police Service (SAPS) is mandated by the Firearms Control Act, 2000 (Act No. 60 of 2000), whereby section 136 (1) provides that “the Registrar may in respect of any firearm or ammunition seized by, surrendered to or forfeited to the State, issue a notice in the Gazette, stating that it is the intention of the State to destroy that firearm or ammunition”.
The Registrar of Firearms is the serving National Commissioner of the South African Police Service.
A notice was published in the Government Gazette on 9 October 2019. As per section 136(2) of the above mentioned Act, interested parties who had a valid claim to the relevant firearms or ammunition were invited to make representations within 21 days after the publication of the notice in the Gazette to the Registrar as to why the identified firearms or ammunition should not be destroyed.
Only four people made representations on four firearms that were destined to be destroyed. The relevant prescripts were followed to consider the representations.
Regarding the firearms that were forfeited to the State, section 149(2) of the Act provides that any firearm or mussel loading firearm ammunition forfeited to the State must be destroyed within six months of the date or forfeiture or after all possible appeals have been concluded.
The last national firearm destruction took place on 17 April 2019, where over 30 000 firearms were destructed.
Six months later, the total number destroyed through melting is 23 055, which included rifles, shotguns and handguns.