The family farmer organisation Saai on 20 January 2021 requested the Minister of Police in a letter that the deadline for amnesty applications – against the background of the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic and the disruptive impact thereof on the functioning of the SAPS – be postponed with a further three months.
The COVID-19 regulations, fear of spreading and police officers being absent as a result of the COVID-19 incidents, are currently busy derailing the amnesty period for firearm licences. Police offices in rural areas often have a shortage of the different prescribed forms needed to apply for amnesty. Load shedding and continuous maintenance of systems also cause computer systems to be offline regularly, while the absence of the necessary officials further disrupts the amnesty process.
Saai is concerned about the capacity of the SAPS to process the amnesty applications within a reasonable period and to return the correct firearms undamaged to the rightful owners. Certain Saai members had to return to police offices up to seven times and had to wait several hours for their applications to be processed unsuccessfully. COVID-19 is mostly blamed for this and it is precisely for this reason that the period for applications ought to be extended.
One of the biggest obstacles is the requirement that firearms must be handed in at the SAPS for the duration of the amnesty process. Taking into account the high rural crime rate and increase in farm attacks, cattle theft, crop theft and poaching of game, it simply doesn’t make sense to leave farmers unarmed on their farms while they are waiting for their firearms to be licensed. Saai’s proposal that farmers must be allowed to keep their firearms and only hand it in once the SAPS is ready for ballistics testing has however up until now fell on deaf ears.
As a result of the value of firearms and especially expensive hunting rifles, Saai is strongly recommending firearm owners to take photos of their firearms to serve as proof of the condition of the firearms upon the process of handing it in.
As the largest network exclusively for family farmers, Saai will continue keeping a close eye on the amnesty process and the organisation is ready to hold the SAPS accountable and responsible for administrative justice and for the return of weapons.
Firearm owners that are concerned that they are being disadvantaged during the amnesty process can contact Saai at 066 071 6094.