New firearms amnesty period declared illegal and invalid
Oct. 11, 2019
Police Minister Bheki Cele finds himself in hot water after going against parliament's recommendations.
The new firearms amnesty period was proclaimed illegally and is therefore invalid, ANC MP and chairperson of the parliamentary portfolio committee on justice, Tina Joemat-Pettersson, warned on Thursday.
She quoted the law that such an amnesty can only be proclaimed once the National Assembly (NA) and the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) have agreed to it. Both the NA and the NCOP very specifically did not agree to the amnesty, so it cannot be implemented, Joemat-Pettersson said.
Police Minister Bheki Cele bungles firearms amnesty process
The fact that police minister Bheki Cele proclaimed the amnesty in the Government Gazette anyway, despite the NA specifically rejecting it and the NCOP not taking a decision on it, left Joemat-Pettersson and her committee very unhappy and with the impression that it was possibly being undermined.
Deputy Minister of police Cassel Mathale, who attended yesterday’s portfolio committee meeting, apologised and promised to explain what went wrong as soon as he had all the facts at his disposal.
In the NCOP meeting last month, he attack on the amnesty was led by DA MP George Michalakis, who said people simply did not trust the police enough anymore to keep such a large number of firearms safe and not to sell them to criminals, because of the police’s track record with the previous amnesty, when thousands of firearms handed in by the public were sold to criminals by high-ranking police officers who are now, themselves, in jail.
Michalakis also asked whether it was true that a firearms amnesty leads to a decline in crime because it is those who obey the law who hand in their firearms, not the criminals.
He claimed that the weaknesses in current firearms legislation must first be addressed before a successful firearms amnesty can be attempted by the police.
ANC members ridicule police procedures
Whereas such criticisms from the DA are not unexpected, events took a surprising turn for the worse when inputs by normally timid ANC MPs turned the police’s Cape Town visit into a nightmare.
Arguments made by ANC members of the committee included:
The point of the amnesty was questioned if there are background checks on those handing in the firearms, because it is precisely the firearms belonging to dodgy people which must preferably be handed in;
The police do not have the ability to run a safe, effective and honest amnesty process;
An ANC MP said the DA was correct that the police was no longer trusted by the community and
Police stations are so poorly run, maintained and secured that it is a bad idea to keep those firearms which are handed in at police stations, lest the police stations be attacked and robbed by criminals.
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