Shortcomings in the firearms application and licencing process were highlighted after an investigation by a Ministerial Task Team at the Central Firearms Registry.
“One of the shortcomings is the fact that the present Firearms Control Act does not provide for a mechanism for the renewal of competency certificates. Although such a procedure was captured in the Firearms Control Amendment Act, it had not been put into operation. Now this matter will be speedily resolved,” the minister noted.
From 10 January, those whose competency certificates are up for renewal need to apply at a local police station within 90 days of the expiry date. “That means between 11 January and 11 April 2011 after which time, if they have not applied for renewal, they will be prosecuted,” Mthethwa said.
This renewal process can also be utilised by those whose competencies have already expired.
“We do recognise some of the frustrations that certain members of society were faced with; we have tried to accommodate such people,” Mthethwa added.
In addition, those in possession of muzzle loading firearms will have to apply for competency certificates. They will have12 months in which to comply.
Also, once a person had applied for renewal of their competency certificate and had proof of this application, the old certificate would remain valid until the new certificate was issued or declined.
As of 10 January, the competency certificate will be valid for the same period as the licence which it relates to. Currently, the certificate is valid for five years, even though some licenses are valid for 10 years.
Mthethwa said the provisions were aimed ensuring that firearms control and licensing was transparent, efficient and would result in only law-abiding, responsible citizens being entitled to own firearms. - BuaNews