The Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Policing today poured ice cold water over the SAPS’ proposal for a six-month firearm amnesty starting 1 April. The proposal is not only dead in the water; it is sunk like the Battleship Bismarck.
Committee Chair Francois Beukman made it unambiguously clear that in order for the proposed amnesty to comply with the law, it requires the approval of Parliament.
Approval that was never sought.
This oversight, whether accidental or deliberate, raises serious questions. Did the Minister and/or the Head of CFR and National Commissioner commit the grave faux pas of forgetting to inform Parliament of their plan? This in itself would be tantamount to gross negligence, but it would be a less damning indictment than the alternative: that Parliamentary approval was deliberately not sought in order to have the proposal steamrollered through during the last week before the recess.
Regardless of what the reasons may be, the actions of the Head of CFR, the National Commissioner, and the Minister of Police expose an inherent contempt of due process from their quarters. This is an inexcusable oversight and abuse of authority that is being dismissed by mere wave of a hand. As citizens, we deserve to have our politicians and policemen held to a much higher standard, and abuses of this nature cannot go unpunished and without consequences.
With veiled threats levelled at law-abiding citizens whose firearm licences have expired in a manner that can only be described as sub judice intimidation that is likely in contempt of court, the Head of the CFR exposed his campaign to criminalise citizens who own firearms. The refusal on the part of the Registrar to exercise his authority and allow the opportunity to those affected to rectify the situation, how can one other but suspect a nefarious agenda behind it all?
What is patently obvious is that the SAPS is so eager and desperate to confiscate firearms for which the licenses have lapsed, and in some cases as a result of their own conduct, that they are prepared to offer amnesty to murderers, or at least “amnesty to unlawful firearms involved in those crimes”.
The matter of the amnesty is put to bed until May when Parliament returns to work, and by then the court cases dealing with the matter of expired licence cards would have already kicked off, which makes one wonder if there would still be any point to it at all.
South Africa deserves better. We deserve better than senior policemen who deem themselves writers of the law of the land, and who lack respect for due process and the Constitution that protects the rights of the citizens they serve.