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Note there were two separate draft amendment regulations published on the same day attempting to amend the same regulations, not to get confused between the two, the one is notice 295 of 2019 dealing primarily with firearms and the other is notice 292 of 2019 dealing primarily with uniforms

The proposed amendments include the following:

2 (f) “semi-automatic means a semi-automatic as defined in Section 1 of the Firearms Control Act”

The Firearms Control Act 60 of 2000 Section 1, defines “semi-automatic” as follows, means self-loading, but not capable of discharging more than one shot with a single dispersion of a trigger.

Draft Regulations 2 (f) reads “by the insertion after the definition of “restricted firearm” the following definition” – semi automatic means a semi-automatic as defined in Section 1 of the Firearms Control Act”

However, there is no definition of a restricted firearm in Regulation 1 of the regulations that is being amended.  So where is this intended to be inserted

There is however a definition of a restricted firearm in the firearms control act and possibly the drafter got confused.

 2(g) of the regulations read: By the insertion after the definition of “semi-automatic” with the following definition – “shotgun means a shotgun as defined in Section 1 of the Firearms Control Act”

Note: Section 1 of the Firearms Control Act has no definition for a shotgun.

Regulation 13 A (16) Security business that renders security service requiring the possession or use of a handgun or shotgun must issue such firearm to a security officer as contemplated in sub regulation (2) only for the rendering of one or more of the following security services:

a) Reaction services or armed response;

b) Protection of valuables that are being transported (cash in transit);

c) Private investigators services;

d) Environmental protection or anti-poaching services;

e) Close protection services; and

f) Protection and security services at national key points

Therefore, a security company may not issue a handgun or a shotgun to any security officer for any security service outside of those definitions, for example vehicle tracking (unless you try and massage vehicle tracking into one of the above service category’s ( which is not defined) as well as armed guarding of any site.  

So now you have the ridiculous situation where you could have a vault containing one billion rand cash. You are no longer permitted to have armed guards to protect the site ( but don’t worry you can still use a paintball gun, but there are now a whole lot of regulations about that to) as the assets are not being transported and it doesn’t fit into the categories above. If a security company comes and fetches R100 from the vault to take to the bank they can use firearms including semi automatics as the assets are now being transported but the site itself ( the vault) can not.

Regulation 13 A (7) Security business may only issue a bolt action rifle, that is defined as a hunting rifle, to people involved in environmental protection services or anti-poaching services (and no other security service).

Regulation 13 A (8) Security business that renders security service which requires the possession or use of a semi-automatic, must issue such firearm to a security officer only for security services aimed at protecting valuables which are being transported.

Regulation 13 A (9) The possession and use of a firearm contemplated in sub regulation (8) (i.e. semi-automatic) is prohibited in respect of all security services rendered and can only be used by cash in transit or asset in transit operatives (unless recommended by the authority and approved by the central firearm controls registrar)

Note:  The definition of a semi-automatic firearm used in the amendment regulations would include pistols, therefore according to this clause no security company, other than cash in transit, may carry a pistol, even if they are involved in anti-poaching, armed response, etc.  Meaning armed response companies will now be limited to using revolvers or shotguns. (While it is debatable whether they had original intended that or it was just caused by careless drafting in any event that is the effect)

Regulation 13 A (10) The possession and use of a firearm on a public or private school premises by a security service provider when rendering security services is prohibited, unless stated in a contract that security service provided will require the use of a firearm.

Regulation 13 C (1) (m) dealing with offences reads as follows:  Any security provider who possesses and uses a firearm on the public or secondary or private school premises for the rendering of security services …………….is guilty of improper conduct (and would be liable to penalties).  Now this is in contrast to Regulations 13 A where they state that the use of a firearm while providing security services on a public or private school premises is permitted if it is stated in the contract that the security services providers will require a firearm.  However, they then make it an offence to be carrying a firearm on a school premises irrespective of the fact that their was contract specifically stated that it would be required.  

This would mean for example any armed response vehicle responding to the school would not be able to enter the school, even after hours, as the armed response officer would naturally be carrying a firearm, the cash in transit companies would not be able to enter the school premises and the school staff would presumably have to carry the cash out to the road.  Should any teachers or learners be attacked, the armed response officers cannot enter the school premises as he is armed and also cannot leave his firearm in the vehicle so that he could try and assist unarmed as this is also contrary to the law.

Security companies already have to comply with the Firearms Control Act as well as the Private Security Industry Regulator Authority Act and Regulations and related legislation, that they are regularly inspected by the designated firearms officer at the local stations, as well as inspectors from the Private Security Industry Regulatory Authority.

When they apply for firearms, particularly rifles, they have to go through extensive application process which is vetted and dealt with in terms of the firearms control act and there is an appeal mechanism where the matter can be decided before the appeal board.  

The security companies effected would have made applications to the central firearm registrar and after the CFR or appeal committee has applied their mind they have proved that the possession of those particular type of firearms are necessary for their work and that they have sufficient safeguarding facilities and trained staff and they have been issued licenses, which licenses have to be continuously re-applied for.  During which process the security service provider has to prove it is registered, has sufficient qualified staff and it is necessary and still needs the firearms in question.

Now these new regulations is trying through the back door to effectively retract all those licenses (at lest you would not be permitted to use them). If the government wants to change the law and disarmed the law abiding citizens of this country then they should attempt to pass a bill through parliament in the normal legislative process so that all the issues can be ventilated. 

If they feel that a security company should not have their license, with justifiable legal reasons, they can refuse to grant them a license to possess one. Should they believe that they should not have a firearm license currently because they are breaking the law, they can seize the firearms and prosecute them. There are procedures in terms of the firearms control act to hold an enquiry and to remove firearms from a security service provider.

To decide that any security service that does not involve transporting assets may no longer use a semi-automatic despite the fact that their particular service may be a higher risk and despite the fact that they have satisfied the central firearm registrar that such weapon is necessary is completely arbitrary.

The idea that security officers are expected to take on gangs of poachers armed with AK47’s with a revolver or a bolt action rifle or a vehicle tracking team is meant to track and arrest high-jackers armed with assault rifles without a firearm or at best (if you massage the definitions of services) with a revolver is laughable.   As is the fact that it would now be unlawful to have an armed-guard guard any premises other than a national key point

Our company, as do hundreds of other, regulars come under fire from gangs of suspects armed with AK47 and other assault rifles.

To say well they can apply for a recommendation from PSIRA to be allowed to use a firearm does help. Firstly on the day this regulation is implemented it takes effect and the use of firearms will ceases except for a set out above. Their is no procedure Put in place for applying or what guidelines they would use to make a decision. No time limited to make a decision and not independent appeal committee to appeal the decision and only applies to semi automatics. All of these process exist in the firearms control act already.

Crime is out of control

The SAPS cannot cope with the level of crime given the amount of resources they have. That is not in dispute by anyone including the SAPS themselves.  Security officers are very often the first to come into contact with armed gangs armed with assault rifles and need to protect themselves and to the public.

These regulations are open for comment until the 30 of June. We encourage you to get involved in opposing these regulations. Submit your comment and contact your member of parliament. These regulations affect the safety of everyone in South Africa.