This statement is issued on behalf of the President of the Agri Eastern Cape, Doug Stern.
While official police statistics recently released, show an increase in the murder rate by 8.4% and attempted murders up by 8.7%, proposed amendments to the Firearms Control Act gazetted for public comment on Friday, want to remove “self-defence” as a reason for owning a firearm.
Minister Cele is in denial, regarding the effectiveness of the South African Police Service at controlling and fighting crime.
Rural communities are having to increasingly take the initiative in combating criminal activity, as rural police stations remain under-resourced, and many operate only as satellite stations which are not open 24hrs.
In many cases farmers are left to respond without SAPS support to the more than 2000 stock-theft cases reported each month.
Does the Minister really expect these farmers to respond to alerts and information received, to protect their property unarmed and without any means to defend themselves.
With the much-lauded Rural Safety Strategy, launched last year with great fanfare, missing virtually all the implementation dates, rural communities are left to effectively fend for themselves.
With the further failure of the South African Police Service to expand its Reservist component to fill the vacuum left when the SANDF Commando system was disbanded, it is inconceivable that the Minister could even dream up a proposal that “self-defence” cannot be a reason to own a firearm.
Our Constitution guarantees the right to a safe and secure environment. The South African Police Service clearly cannot fulfil its mandate and now it wants to remove the only means by which law abiding citizens can defend themselves.
Agri Eastern Cape will most certainly comment on these draft proposals and explain logically why some of the amendments proposed are irrational and display a complete misunderstanding of the real safety and security issues facing our rural communities.
Furthermore, Agri Eastern Cape will, together with other organizations who hold similar views, ensure that everything possible is done, to ensure that some of these ridiculous proposals never become legislated.