On Wednesday, the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Police, Francois Beukman, said more needs to be done to effectively deal with the rapid increase in illegal firearms used by criminals in violent crime throughout South Africa.
Recent incidents, such as cash-in-transit heists and robberies with high-calibre automatic firearms, has caused a great deal of distress. “The high incidents of gun deaths on the Cape Flats, especially of young children, should be tackled head-on by the relevant law enforcement agencies,” Beukman said.
The portfolio committee believes the following five steps should be prioritised if the police are to be effective in dealing with the proliferation of guns:
1. Channel more resources to the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation’s specialised unit focussing on illegal firearms.
2. Implement more projects and network operations initiated by crime intelligence to deal with gun smuggling by criminal syndicates.
3. Enforce stricter control measures in South African Police Services (Saps) gun shops and stations, and also in the arms supply of the South African National Defence Force.
4. Ensure closer cooperation with other South African Development Community countries to deal with the proliferation and inflow of high calibre automatic firearms in the region.
5. Conduct a full-scale review of the Firearms Registry turn-around strategy and a forensic audit of high-risk areas in the licencing of firearms, as well as permits and authorisations.
The Portfolio Committee is also of the view that the long-awaited Firearms Amendment Bill should be tabled as soon as possible, as the increasing rate of gun-related deaths in the country warrants an increase in efforts to deal with the proliferation of illegal firearms by local law enforcement agencies.
The first Firearms Bill was drafted in 2006, and a more recent version of this Bill (the 2015 version) requires a number of amendments to be made to current gun laws in the country. This includes much stricter regulation regarding ownership and the sale of guns in the country.
“There is also a huge responsibly on citizens to report any information about the ownership of illegal guns to the Saps,” Beukman added.