Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Police, Francois Beukman, has called for the introduction of further measures to stop the use of firearms by criminals in violent crime.
In a statement released by parliament on Wednesday (16 May), Beukman said that recent incidents of cash-in transit heists and brazen robberies where high-calibre automatic firearms were used was of a great cause of concern to the committee.
“The high incidents of gun deaths on the Cape Flats, especially of young children, should be tackled head-on by the relevant law-enforcement agencies,” Beukman said.
The portfolio committee believes the following five steps should be prioritised if the police are to be effective in dealing with the proliferation of guns:
- Channel more resources to the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation’s specialised unit focusing on illegal fire-arms.
- Implement more projects and network operations initiated by crime intelligence to deal with gun smuggling by criminal syndicates.
- Enforce stricter control measures in South African Police Services (Saps) stores and stations, and also in the arms supply of the South African National Defence Force.
- Ensure closer cooperation with other South African Development Community countries to deal with the proliferation and inflow of high calibre automatic firearms in the region.
- Conduct a full-scale review of the Firearms Registry turn-around strategy and a forensic audit of high-risk areas in the licencing of firearms, as well as permits and authorisations.
The Portfolio Committee said that the long-awaited Firearms Amendment Bill should be tabled as soon as possible.
With a version of the bill having existed as far back as 2006, a more recent 2015 iteration of the bill calls for a number of amendments to current gun laws in the country – including much stricter regulations on ownership and sale of guns in the country,
Beukman emphasised that the high rate of gun-related deaths warrants an increase in efforts to deal with the proliferation of illegal firearms by South African law-enforcement agencies.
“There is also a huge responsibly on citizens to report any information about the ownership of illegal guns to the Saps,” he said.