Police Minister Bheki Cele has urged gun owners to take advantage of government's firearms amnesty programme and surrender unwanted weapons before May this year.
The Minister made the remarks at Linden police station in Johannesburg, where an arms dealer parted with 298 such weapons.
Cele said since the amnesty began in December 2019, a total of 2 266 firearms have been surrendered to police stations across the country.
Gauteng province leads the pack with 527 firearms surrendered to date. Hot on its heels is the Western Cape with 514, KwaZulu-Natal (309) and Limpopo (252). The
Eastern Cape (189) Mpumalanga (173), Free State (163) Northern Cape (48) and the North West (91) follow in descending order.
A total of 31 382 rounds of ammunition is now in police hands.
"To say that the firearm amnesty period has kicked off on a good note would be an understatement. These numbers keep on growing daily," Cele said.
This, he said, is a clear indication that South Africans are heeding the call to take part in the amnesty and get illegal and unwanted firearms off the streets.
"We want to assure the public that we have strengthened our systems to ensure the safe keeping of all submitted firearms. This will continue beyond the amnesty period."
Cele described the dealer, who surrendered 298 weapons, as one of thousands of South Africans who have taken heed of the South African Police Service (SAPS) call to present themselves at various police stations and surrender their illegally possessed or unwanted firearms.
The surrendered arms received will be subjected to ballistic testing, as will all arms handed over during the amnesty.
"It is important to note that during this amnesty period, there will be no indemnity for firearms handed over which have been used to commit crime," he said.
Cele said a detective investigative team has been established to investigate cases of firearms linked to crimes.
"When the amnesty period ends, firearms will be audited for the purpose of destruction. While we as the SAPS are encouraged by these growing numbers, I am still calling on maximum participation."
The Minister urged gun owners to turn the tide against crime alongside SAPS and take advantage of the amnesty period.
"When the amnesty period lapses in May, rest assured the law will be tough on those who persist on carrying guns that are not licensed. Zizojika izinto (things will change)!
"We, as SAPS, will continue to rid our communities of dangerous arms, while responding positively towards our service delivery agreement of ensuring that the people of South Africa are and feel safe," he said.