Gun owners whose licences have expired will have to surrender their firearms to the police immediately.
This was confirmed by a Constitutional Court judgment on Thursday, with national police spokesperson Brigadier Vishnu Naidoo confirming that those who failed to do so would be arrested.
“We welcome the judgment and we are calling on all those who haven’t renewed their firearm licences to bring them in. If we find them, [they will be arrested],” Naidoo said.
This ruling comes after a long court battle between the South African Hunters and Game Conservation Association (SAHGCA) and the minister of police.
Justice Johan Froneman ruled that owning a firearm was not a fundamental right, but a privilege regulated by law under the Firearms Control Act.
The SAHGCA argued that the police did not have the capacity to handle the surrender of thousands of firearms.
But Naidoo said the police would manage and make it work.
“Much of SA Hunters’ founding papers in the High Court focused on alleged problems and complaints about the administration of the Act,” Froneman said in his judgment.
“While the apparent problems in the administration of the Act are cause for legitimate concern, it is not relevant to a proper interpretation of the impugned provisions of the Act.”
‘The gun holder must get rid of the firearm’
The association also argued that there was irrationality or vagueness flowing from the time-lapse termination.