FIREARMS NEWS BULLETIN 05/03/201506-Mar-2015
Approximately three weeks ago a large number of people with expired New Act i.e. white licences received sms’s from the South African Police Services that their New Act licenses had expired.
I continue to receive reports that the South African Police Services are telling people who have expired white licences that their possession of their firearm in terms of such an expired licence is illegal and therefore constitutes an offence.
The frequency and geographic distribution of such misleading statements by the South African Police Services have led me to conclude that there is a concerted campaign, once again to mislead and/or intimidate lawful firearm owners into handing in firearms where they do not necessarily need to.
If you applied to renew your licence within 90 days before it expired, your licence remains valid pending a decision on that application for renewal. This is contained in Section 24 of the Act and is so simple and straightforward to read and understand, that even the South African Police Services should understand it. I have examples where licence holders have been told that their firearms are illegal notwithstanding timeous applications for renewal.
The elephant in the room is the South African Hunters and Game Conservation Association Court Order.
For those of us who do not trust the police in matters relating to firearms, please be aware that the police are attempting to introduce amendments to the Firearms Control Act to do away with the SA Hunters court decision without the court deciding upon it and they also want to criminalize the non-renewal of a licence. If they read their own legislation and understood it, they would realise that this is already an offence.
Be that as it may, the SA Hunters Court Order does confuse the situation but in favour of firearm owners. The Court Order declared all green Act licences valid. It did not distinguish between those that had been transitioned to the New Act and those that had not been renewed. I am aware that many people have taken the view point that, if they had an old green Act licence which was declared valid, then their white Act licence need not be renewed. The interpretation of and implementation of the SA Hunters Court Order is legally complex with many possible permutations, which I do not propose to debate in this communication. The purpose of this communication is however to emphasise that in the event of a criminal prosecution, if the SA Hunters Court Order still remains valid and in force, a person cannot be convicted of illegal possession of a firearm if you did not renew your licence or if your white licence has expired. It follows that if the South African Police Services advise or threaten a firearm owner who has an old green licence and who has not renewed or who has an expired white licence that they are illegally in possession of a firearm, that person should tell the South African Police Services that they are wrong. Please do so diplomatically.
I have also been told of a number of South African Police Service members demanding the surrender of old green licences and then cutting them up. They have no right to do this and again this appears to be part of a campaign to do away with the green licences in less than lawful ways.
If you are aware of any of the type of incidents that are detailed in this communication, either send the details directly to me or to your local hunting or sport shooting association or to firstname.lastname@example.org or to the South African Gun Owners Association at email@example.com.