http://www.bdlive.co.za/national/2015/0 ... ays-nhleko
Firearms registry mess to be fixed, says Nhleko
by Wyndham Hartley, 26 March 2015, 06:19
POLICE Minister Nathi Nhleko and his deputy Maggie Sotyu admitted on Wednesday that the police-run Central Firearms Registry is in a shambles, which significantly affects gun control and the implementation of the Firearms Control Act.
For many years the South African Police Service (SAPS) has been questioned over the situation at the registry, with Parliament’s police committee often being assured a turnaround strategy was being instituted.
The police ministry, the SAPS and the registry have in recent months faced a number of court challenges due to failures in issuing licences within a reasonable time. In some cases they have been found to be in contempt of court after failing to implement court orders.
Mr Nhleko and Ms Sotyu spoke on Wednesday at the second day of the National Firearms Summit organised by Parliament’s police committee and the civilian secretariat for police.
In the strongest admission yet Ms Sotyu said an oversight visit to the registry this month had revealed an organisation in chaos. She also reported that the Cabinet was very disappointed in the situation at the registry.
Ms Sotyu said the situation at the registry showed the registry was not a priority to the SAPS.
The unit was plagued with corruption that had seen many officers dismissed.
The registry’s infrastructure, including its computers, was degenerating, Ms Sotyu said.
Fielding questions on the situation in the registry, Mr Nhleko said in his opening address he had avoided talking about it because "there is a big problem and it has to be fixed". He promised that details of the turnaround strategy for the registry would be made public soon.
Ms Sotyu — in a direct response to a question — said that there was no intention by the government to disarm South Africans.
Neither Mr Nhleko nor Ms Sotyu responded to numerous requests for detail of an earlier official inquiry into the situation at the registry.
Gun Free SA’s Adele Kirsten said the question was deliberately avoided. "What is in that report that we are not allowed to know?" she asked.
The attorney representing the private security industry Martin Hood said there was a smell around the registry that would only disappear when the report was made public.
The proposed changes to the Firearms Control Act also came under fire from various representatives of shooting associations who raised warnings about the provisions for marking all legal weapons with microdots and for embarking on a programme of ballistic fingerprinting. The measures had been shown not to work. Time and resources would be saved if they were abandoned, the ministry was told.
Ms Sotyu said when the Cabinet had discussed the proposed changes, concern was expressed about the plans for microdots. She had queried whether the SAPS had the capacity to implement the measures.
"We were hoping that this meeting would come up with suggestions," she said.
In the closing session Mr Hood said while the discussions over the two days had been valuable he was struck by the fact that they were very similar to those that took place more than 15 years ago when the gun control debate began to produce the Firearms Control Act.
Now was the time for action, he said.