Police minister Bheki Cele says that once the grace period ends on May 31, the police will show no mercy to those who have not taken advantage of the amnesty. Picture: JACKIE CLAUSEN
Police minister Bheki Cele says that once the grace period ends on May 31, the police will show no mercy to those who have not taken advantage of the amnesty. Picture: JACKIE CLAUSEN

In less than 50 days since the firearm amnesty period started, 2,266 firearms had been surrendered to police stations across SA, police minister Bheki Cele said.

He was speaking at Linden police station in Johannesburg during the handover of 298 guns by firearms dealer Chris van der Bergh. Deputy police minister Cassel Mathale and national police commissioner Khehla Sitole were also present for the occasion.

Chris van der Bergh with minister Bheki Cele during the handover. Picture: KGAUGELO MASWENENG
Chris van der Bergh with minister Bheki Cele during the handover. Picture: KGAUGELO MASWENENG

Van der Bergh handed in 190 handguns, 60 rifles, 48 shotguns and 2,984 rounds of ammunition.

“He is one of thousands of South Africans who have taken heed of the SAPS call to present themselves at various police stations and surrender their illegally possessed or unwanted firearms,” said Cele.

The amnesty period runs until the end of May.

“Firearms remain the enemy of our society and we as the SAPS must do all in our powers to protect communities from these illegally acquired weapons.

“The declaration of this amnesty period is in the interest of the public and I believe it will make a dent in dealing decisively with the excess of illegal firearms and unwanted firearms that end up in the wrong hands,” Cele added.

Guns surrended per province

Gauteng 527

Western Cape: 514

KZN: 309

Eastern Cape:  189

Limpopo: 252

Mpumalanga: 173

Free State: 163

North West: 91

Northern Cape: 48

Gauteng had the most guns surrendered so far. Cele said 31,382 rounds of ammunition were now in police hands.

“These numbers keep on growing daily. It is clear South Africans are taking up the call to take part in the amnesty and remove illegal and unwanted firearms from our streets.”

The police minister said once the grace period ended, the police would show no mercy to those who had not taken advantage of the amnesty.

But Tim Flack from Gun Owners SA (Gosa) described the minister’s demonstration as “a bit of a joke” and a “sideshow just to make it look like SAPS is actually doing something”.

He referred to a high court interdict awarded to Gosa which states that the police are not allowed to seize a weapon “for the sole reason that the licence of such a firearm has expired”.

As the amnesty is aimed at unlawful weapons as opposed to expired licensed weapons, Flack said the 298 guns surrendered were “all old, out-of-date guns that were either broken or had parts missing”.

“Not a single one of those guns would have been illegal firearms,” said Flack. “They would have probably been just damaged firearms that no-one wanted to buy or that were so outdated that they needed to be destroyed.”

All the surrendered weapons received during the amnesty would be subjected to ballistic testing.

“It is important to note that during this amnesty period there will be no indemnity for firearms handed over which have been used to commit a crime,” said Cele.

“A detective investigative team has been established to investigate cases of firearms linked to crimes,” the minister said.

The latest crime statistics show that firearms are still the most common weapon used in serious crimes. Firearms were involved in the murder of more than 7,156 people during 2018/2019 — or close to 20 every day — as well as in 13,360 cases of attempted murder.

This is the fourth firearm amnesty since 1994.

With Pieter van der Merwe