Action recap: Sakeliga legal action helps to advance firearm property rights


Prior to the Fidelity Case (Formally: Minister of Police and Others v Fidelity Security Services (Pty) Ltd [Sakeliga and Others as Amici Curiae]) the Police interpreted the Firearms Control Act in such a way that people who voluntarily handed firearms in to the police owing to previous failure to renew their licences in time, were unable to submit new licence applications in respect of such firearms and consequently forfeited their property.

As amicus curiae, Sakeliga argued that this interpretation of the Act was untenable and that it was having harmful implications for ownership of firearm owners.

Sakeliga was able to make a significant contribution to the favourable outcome in the case. The court found in favour of Fidelity, that firearm owners may bring an application for a new licence in respect of firearms with licences that have expired. The court also recognised an important distinction between property and possession. The mere fact that a firearm is not in legal possession does not mean that the owner forfeits the property (firearm).

Arising from the court case, SAPS on 1 July 2022 issued to all provincial commissioners a standing instruction that made it clear that there is a distinction between ownership and possession of firearms and that firearm owners must be able at any time to apply for a licence for a firearm without forfeiting the firearm. In terms of the instruction, the police should not cause firearm owners to be prosecuted where a firearm licence has expired, and the owner should retain possession thereof until such time as steps are taken to obtain a new licence.


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