2008-09-18 : Firearm collector 'no criminal'

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2008-09-18 : Firearm collector 'no criminal'

Postby GOSA » Wed, 2008-10-22 11:20

http://www.news24.com/Regional_Papers/C ... ~E,00.html



18/09/2008 12:03 PM - (SA)
Firearm collector 'no criminal'
19-09-2008


A DECISION by the Strand magistrate's court on Friday to ignore
numerous recommendations of the new Firearms Act, instead applying its
own discretion to sentence a bona fide gun collector for being in
possession of numerous illegal weapons and ammunition, may well be
regarded as a watershed case.


Stefanus Horn, a local employee of munitions manufacturer Denel,
pleaded guilty to six charges relating to his possession of five
unlicensed firearms; not having a permit for the ammunition of 14
firearms in his possession; not being licensed to import or export
weapons; being in possession of more than the 200 rounds permitted by
law; unlawful possession of firearm parts; neglecting to keep firearms
locked away in a safe; and, illegal possession of explosives - an
anti-personnel mine.


"The court is not dealing with a criminal in the true sense of the
word, but rather someone with a passion for weapons and ammunition,
collected over a period of 30 years," Mr Horn's legal representative,
Adv Dawie Joubert, told the court. "He has not yet applied for a
collectors license and therefore technically contravened the
applicable laws."


Adv Joubert, who was instructed in the case by Leon Viljoen of the
Malan Lourens and Arendse firm of attorneys, said Mr Horn has worked
for Somchem - the local division of Denel - for 30 years, and also
with explosives. He is a former member of the SA Defence Force and of
former shooting clubs.


He has 24 firearm licenses and has until the end of this year to
acquire registration as a collector in order to retain them all.


Adv Joubert said the weapons were appropriately stored, except that on
January 1 this year a woman who did not have a safe, gave him two
firearms to be destroyed, but which he had not yet done when arrested.


In the light of this, the Defence requested a lighter sentence and
asked that the accused not be found incompetent to own a firearm.


State prosecutor Marlene van Heerden however, said a heavy sentence -
including a fine of R20 000, the confiscation of the weapons and that
Mr Horn be declared unfit to own a firearm - was more appropriate.


"Has he never thought in all the years, should a fire break out that
he could blow up the entire building?" she said.


"Burglaries happen every second day in this area. Has he ever thought
what would happen if someone without such good intentions broke in and
stole the weapons, and what bad consequences and drama this could cause?"


When it came to sentencing, magistrate Shaun Lea said the court dealt
with people in possession of illegal firearms, and who do not belong
to any shooting clubs and had no other interest other than murder and
robbery, on a daily basis. He said the court accepted the accused's
plea explanation but felt his offence didn't create the same danger
for the community as an illegal weapon in the hands of the wrong person.


"Although this court is permitted to hand down a jail sentence in this
regard, it feels this would not be a fair punishment. The six charges
are therefore combined for the purpose of sentencing."


The magistrate sentenced Mr Horn to a fine of R8 000 or six months in
jail, with a further 18-month jail sentence, suspended for five years
on condition that he not be found guilty of the possession of
firearms, ammunition or any other munition without the necessary
authorisation.


He also ordered the confiscation of the anti-personnel mine.


Following thorough consideration of the facts of this case, the court
finds that the accused displays no violent or criminal intentions that
would require an order to declare the accused incompetent to own a
firearm.

>From the Somerset West District Mail.
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GOSA
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