All three court cases relating to the issue of expired firearm licence cards are being heard simultaneously in the North Gauteng High Court today.
A brief summary of the three cases and their principle parties are provided by Martin Hood on his Facebook page, and is as follows:
- SA Hunters have taken a broad approach in their application. They have asked for the implementation of the Amendment Bill that was published in 2015 in conjunction with the declaration that Sections 24 and 28 of the Firearms Control Act are unconstitutional, because no provision is made for late applications. Their long-term objective is that the SAPS must be compelled to disclose information and to provide a comprehensive plan to rectify a litany of problems within the Central Firearms Registry. SA Hunters has documented these problems in a very methodical way.
- Fidelity, who have litigated against the police in the past, deserve recognition for their insistence that the South African Police Services comply with the law. Fidelity also is asking that Sections 24 and 28 be declared unconstitutional and that the High Court allows the submission of late applications on the argument that condonation should be provided for in cases where good reasons are provided. Fidelity’s issue is quite a narrow issue, and may be the easiest one of all three to decide.
- The third application (supported by GOSA) is that of the South African Arms and Ammunition Dealers Association. Their argument is that as firearm dealers they are a key component of the successful implementation of Firearms Control Legislation. They have a number of dealer-specific problems, inasmuch as they are in possession of firearms on expired licences, either through safekeeping; or estate firearms or firearms that they purchased and the police have not yet processed the necessary documentation. The dealers have proposed practical solutions to assist the South African Police Services in the reapplication for firearms on expired licences.
Such is the lay of the land at the current moment. Considering that these cases will very likely need to finalised by the Constitutional Court, the chances of any short-term relief for the affected parties (ie. the expired licence card holders) seems slim at best.
What is obvious is that the SAPS and the CFR have repeatedly failed at effectively, efficiently, and honestly administering their own systems. The CFR is also guilty of misinterpreting the law in various ways over the years, as is evident by the large number of specious and unlawful licence refusals they indulge in.
This means the engaged parties have a very strong case, but that you may have to hang-in there a little while longer before getting closure.
In the meantime, firearm rights organisations have had much success in staving-off unlawful activities by the SAPS, specifically Western Cape FLASH, who were hammered by the Civilian Secretariat for Police after GOSA’s legal team and 10 Western Cape firearm dealers lodged an official complaint against the intimidation and threats they received.
The gates will have to be guarded for a while to go still.