Durban shootout police guns

A stock photo of several handguns. Image: Pixabay

Eight reasons why South African gun dealers face firearm delays

The main problem lies with SAPS’ application form, 350A.

Durban shootout police guns

A stock photo of several handguns. Image: Pixabay

Many firearm dealers are struggling to return firearms which are unsold or resold to the police, but Police Minister General Bheki Cele says the police administration is not to be blamed for the resultant delays.

Although Cele has denied police culpability, he has agreed that the South African Police Service (SAPS) takes three times as long to process the requests as the time prescribed in the applicable rules and regulations.

Firearm dealerships experiencing frustrating delays

Cele was reacting to a parliamentary question by DA MP Andrew Whitfield. Speaking to TheSouthAfrican, Whitfield said his question was prompted by requests from several firearm dealerships which were experiencing delays, and that Cele’s answer did not tally with people’s lived experiences.

Whitfield will put further pressure on authorities from this week to get to the bottom of the truth.

The problem lies with SAPS’ application form 350A, a bit of a curse word in the firearms industry because it seems there is a shortage of the forms which gives firearm dealers grey hair, lots of wrinkles and tons of pent-up anger.

Whenever a firearm dealer needs to return a firearm, s/he has to fill out a 350A application to the national firearm registry via the police. Cele  says there is no backlog of the forms as has been alleged to and by the firearms industry, but he agreed that it took the police on average thirty days to process each application, while the prescribed registration time is ten days.

Read: Data doesn’t seem to support Gun Free SA’s “four times more likely” claim

Eight mistakes which delay the returns process

Cele placed the reasons for the delays are foursquare at the door of the dealerships, and provided eight dealership-initiated mistakes why the police are not at fault.

These are:

  • Incomplete SAPS 350A application forms;
  • No record of the firearm on the system;
  • The firearm is not on the dealer’s stock register specified on the application form;
  • No documentary proof of the origin of the firearm;
  • The firearm is often registered to the identity of a person without the authority from such a person to sell or transfer the firearm;
  • The firearm is often imported into the country and sold before being transferred to the dealer’s code;
  • Some dealers wrongfully provide duplicates of the 350A application form rather than the original and
  • Application forms are often not sent to the correct e-mail address provided.