South Africa: Dangerous Weapons to Be Curbed

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In an attempt to harmonise all legislation dealing with dangerous weapons, Parliament's Portfolio Committee on Police yesterday (12 February) received a briefing from the Minister of Police on the Dangerous Weapons Bill.

The Bill aims to repeal all legislation dealing with dangerous weapons, such as the Dangerous Weapons Act, which is the legislation currently in force. Explaining the rationale behind the Bill, Mr Mthethwa said one of its aims was to provide for uniformity in terms of the legislation dealing with weapons.

"This is a key legislation, especially in a country where people carry dangerous weapons in protests", Mr Mthethwa said. He conceded that the country is currently grappling with violent crimes, and one of the contributing factors is dangerous weapons.

However, this proposed legislation will not prohibit people from carrying licensed guns and pepper sprays. Amongst the written submissions the Committee received were concerns from the public that the legislation will disarm citizens and take away citizens' rights to protect themselves. Committee member Petrus Groenewald said he feared the Bill would be misused by the police, which could lead to people being arrested unfairly.

Chairperson of the Committee, Ms Annelize van Wyk, said whilst it was important to pass the legislation, the Department needed to do an implementation and roll-out plan and present it to the Committee before the Bill is adopted.

The Committee also conceded that the definition of a dangerous weapon was too broad and needed to be narrowed. The Committee also urged the police to do more in protecting citizens, and referred to the rape and murder of Bredasdorp teen Anene Booysen stating that there were many more such cases. The Committee will hold public hearings on the Bill next week.

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