2007-11-15 : Last-minute rush blamed for gun-licence backlog

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2007-11-15 : Last-minute rush blamed for gun-licence backlog

Postby GOSA » Fri, 2007-11-23 07:05


Last-minute rush blamed for gun-licence backlog

November 15, 2007 Edition 1

Siyabonga Mkhwanazi

Police top brass have blamed the massive backlog in the processing of
applications for gun licences on people who wait until the last minute to
fill in the forms.

Divisional Commissioner Stefan Schutte told the National Assembly's
committee on safety and security yesterday that the problem of not being
able to speed up applications did not lie with the police, but with massive
numbers of applicants who rush to the police stations a few days before the
closing date to file their applications.

"In that last three or four days you have a rush where a number of people
are coming to police stations wanting to apply for their licences. You
always get a huge deposit in the last day or two.

"Even in (March) 2006, on that last day you had a number of people coming
into the police stations and paying," said Schutte.

Schutte was responding to a question from DA MP Dianne Kohler Barnard who
said there had been several complaints from members of the public who said
they had to wait for a long period for their licence renewals, appeals or
new applications to be issued.

"People will die waiting for their licences. It is (the logjam) allowing
law-abiding people to break the law," she said, adding that some of the
people were frustrated because they just want licences for game hunting.

Schutte said it was becoming a trend that, at the end of every financial
year, March, there was a rush of people with applications to police stations.

It was in this context that it appeared that the police were taking too
long to finalise the issuing of gun licences.

He said people needed to take into cognisance the fact that when a large
number of them filed applications at one go police had to suddenly deal
with massive volumes.

Deputy national commissioner Andre Pruis pointed out that another factor
that comes into play was that they have to get people to undergo a
competency test which involves a basic training course at an accredited
training institution and a background assessment by the SAPS.

After undergoing this competency programme police issue competency
certificates to successful applicants.

"Competency certificates are something that people in South Africa are not
used to. It is something new," said Pruis.

He said police processed 211 000 applications for firearm renewal and
issued 106 000 competency certificates during the 2006/07 financial year.
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