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CON COURT SUMMARY
CON COURT SUMMARY
CON COURT SUMMARY.pdf (286.65KB)
CON COURT SUMMARY
CON COURT SUMMARY
CON COURT SUMMARY.pdf (286.65KB)

A CONSTITUTIONAL CHALLENGE 

Eight justices of the Constitutional Court, our country’s highest court, will henceforth have to carefully consider the arguments made on behalf of the Minister of Police (as appellant), SA Hunters and Game Conservation Association (as defendant), Gun Free SA and Fidelity Security (both as amici curiae) and then adjudicate the case on the facts as contained in pleadings and the law. Since Judge Tolmay on 4 July 2017 ruled, amongst others, that sections 24 and 28 of the Firearms Control Act, No. 60 of 2000 were unconstitutional, our law requires that any finding of unconstitutionality by a High Court, needs to be confirmed by the Constitutional Court. 

On behalf of the minister it was argued that the Gauteng North High Court went beyond what was proven by the applicant (SA Hunters) and that, accordingly, the ruling could not be confirmed. Counsel for SA Hunters, however, argued convincingly that there are clear gaps in the legislation, especially in the sense that no provision is made for firearm owners who had failed to timeously apply for the renewal for their licenses, to do so either during the so-called 90-days period or even after the license has expired.  Great emphasis was placed on the fact that the failure to timeously apply for the renewal of licenses criminalise such gun owners and deprive them of their ownership of their firearms. This is an argument based on constitutional principles that protect citizens against vague and irrational legislation and equal protection for all. It also guards against arbitrary deprivation of property. We are satisfied that the court understands that there are gaps in the law and that these gaps cause confusion and uncertainty among firearm owners. 

The argument of GFSA was based on emotion and (again) irrelevant statistics and we are of the view that it will not contribute significantly to any finding or decision. 

Fidelity’s argument coincided largely with what SAGA argued in the Gauteng High Court, namely that sections 24 and 28 were not unconstitutional, but rather that clear guidelines should be given regarding the interpretation of the provisions. These guidelines could then be utilised by parliament in redrafting the Firearms Control Act. 

As expected, at the conclusion of the arguments, the court postponed the matter for consideration and to deliver judgment. Although we have no indication how long this might take, the justices are extremely hard-working and they have very high productivity rate. 

Is it possible to predict the ruling of the court? It will be unethical and very irresponsible to do so.  The court will declare unconstitutional provisions of an Act only if there are no other remedies. Accordingly, even if the court does not confirm the declaration of unconstitutionality of sections 24 and 28 by the Gauteng High Court, it may nevertheless provide interpretation and guidelines for its application. 

Firearm owners are reminded that it remains their responsibility to timeously apply for the renewal of their licenses or to lawfully dispose of such firearms should they no longer wish to possess them. Although the CFR sends out sms notices  to remind licensees of the imminent expiry of their licenses, it still does not happen consistently. Rather diarise the expiry dates and apply for renewal in time.

Addendum to Release issued on 8 February 2018

Fidelity argued (in our view convincingly) that Sections 24 and 28 were not unconstitutional, but rather that clear guidelines should be given regarding the interpretation of the provisions. These guidelines could then be utilised by parliament in redrafting the Firearms Control Act.


 SAGA 1985-2015 : 30 YEARS OF DEDICATED SERVICE

 

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WHAT IS SAGA ABOUT

The South African Gunowners' Association (SAGA) is a non-profit, non-discriminatory organization, whose sole purpose is to represent the interests of all people who embrace the principles of safe and responsible ownership and usage of firearms for sport, recreation, hunting and self-defence.
        
SAGA is the watchdog that endeavours to safeguard the rights of the South African public by engaging government in discussion regarding firearm related issues and to provide technical assistance and expertise where needed. This is achieved by collecting and disseminating information regarding all aspects of the legitimate use of firearms. This is to enable responsible, non-discriminatory and enforceable legislation that would benefit all South Africans, irrespective of race, colour or creed.

World Forum on Shooting Activities  (WFSA)

The World Forum on Sport Shooting Activities (WFSA) is an ECOSOC NGO at United Nations representing over 100 million hunters and sport shooters.  We also represent most of the major civilian firearms and ammunition manufacturers. SAGA is a paid up voting member and is represented on the EXCO.

 If you want to get in touch with SAGA, just click on Contact.  

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