Please find attached soundbite by Andrew Whitfield MP.
During a portfolio committee meeting on Police held earlier today the Chairperson of the committee proposed that the Firearms Control Amendment Bill not be prioritised but rather be held back for further consideration.
The committee received a presentation on its legislative pipeline and agreed that the FCA Bill be held back given the extensive public outcry over the Bill. It was presented to the committee today that over 118 000 comments were received on the Bill during the period for public comment. The Civilian Secretariat for Police (CSP), which is responsible for the Bill, indicated that comments were being received at over 2 000 comments per day. It was further indicated to the committee that the Chief State Law Adviser has been approached for a legal opinion on the constitutionality of the deletion of sections 13, 14, 17 and 18 in the Principal Act. The CSP now awaits a formal response on the the constitutionality of the Bill.
The DA wishes to thank the thousands of concerned members of the public who have opposed this Bill and submitted their comprehensive comments which the CSP assured the committee were included in the redrafting of the Bill.
The committee today agreed to prioritise the Criminal Law (Forensic Procedures) Bill (also known as the DNA Bill); the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) Amendment Bill; and the South African Police Service (SAPS) Amendment Bill.
The DA has from the outset taken a very firm and clear position on this piece of legislation and have led the campaign against the Bill. While we welcome the postponement of this Bill we will continue to call for the Bill to be scrapped and for the Minister of Police, Bheki Cele, to rather focus his attention on fixing the broken Central Firearms Registry (CFR).
The DA has a proud record of opposing this Bill and we have taken the following steps over the past year in this regard:
- We’ve called on the Minister to abandon this Bill which will only hamper people’s ability to protect themselves against dangerous criminals;
- We called for the Civilian Secretariat to appear before Parliament’s Portfolio Committee of Police to give a detailed presentation on the Firearms Control Amendment Bill to allow Parliament to fully interrogate the contents and rationale of this unreasonable Bill;
- We have launched and handed in a petition with more than 113 000 signatures opposing this Bill;
- We’ve called for national firearms audit of all police stations across the country as more than 700 SAPS guns are lost or stolen every year and find their way to criminals. Instead of disarming law-abiding South Africans, SAPS must stop arming criminals;
- We submitted our objections to the Firearms Control Amendment Bill to the Civilian Secretariat for Police and continuously urged all South Africans to do the same;
- We successfully hosted a virtual South African Firearms Summit with many different sectors of society. We even invited Police Minister Bheki Cele to the debate, although he declined – likely because he would be unable to defend this Bill against the overwhelming evidence of the danger it would hold for ordinary people;
- In light of the Minister’s failure to honour his invitation, we sent him a link to the full summit which can be accessed here: youtube.com/watch?v=tlXTGTJyBl0;
- We’ve highlighted all our various concerns with the Bill on an episode of the Inside Track; and
- We’ve released at least numerous statements on the issue, wrote letters and opinion pieces on it and have done numerous interviews on various media platforms to highlight how incredibly problematic this Bill is.
The DA will remain vigilant and work with members of the committee to achieve an outcome which is in the best interests of the people of South Africa.