SA Hunters win a very positive verdict in their court case

Congratulations must be extended to SA Hunters for their winning of a very positive verdict in their court case regarding the constitutionality of Sections 24 and 28 of the Firearms Control Act, 2000 (Act 60 of 2000) (Section 24 and 28 refers to renewal of firearm licences).

This court case was heard in the Pretoria High Court on 25 and 26 April 2017 (see our Neswletter 12(20) dated 18-3-2016).

Judge RG Tolmay on 4 July 2017, issued the following order following the above-mentioned court case: (chapter numbers in her verdict indicated below)

68.1     Section 24 and 28 of the Firearms Control Act, 2000 (Act 60 of 2000) are hereby declared unconstitutional;

68.2     Parliament is given 18 months within which to effect the amendment of the Act in order to ensure constitutional compliance;

68.3     All firearms issued in terms of the Firearms Control Act, 2000 (Act 60 of 2000), which are or were due to be renewed in terms of Section 24 of the Firearms Control Act, 2000 (Act 60 of 2000), shall be deemed to be valid, until the Constitutional Court has made its determination on the constitutionality of the aforesaid Sections; and

68.4     The Respondent is ordered to pay the cost of the applicant, which cost will include the costs of two counsel.

We advise that members should please not jump to what could amount to possibly inapplicable conclusions from the above-mentioned order.

Our legal team is busy studying the whole verdict and we shall advise the detail of the implications of Judge Tolmay’s order, from a legal perspective within the next 48 hours.

The only sure conclusion we can draw, without first letting our legal team study all the practical implications of the order, is to say that those persons who forgot to renew their white licences on time, are in the clear, and are not illegally in possession of the firearms they did not renew (or renewed late).

But please also take note that the practical arrangements implied by the order, will also have bearing on how SAPS will manage the renewal of firearm licences as from today.  They will have to issue new directives in this regard (we shall advise the moment we know).

Parliament is given 18 months to make the necessary amendments, and then the Constitutional Court will have to decide on the constitutionality of those amendments (the whole process could thus go beyond 18 months).

We have no indication as to how SAPS will manage the implied process changes, and we do not know what will happen with firearms, which were handed in by persons for destruction or for safe keeping in relation to the renewal of firearms licences.

There are thus several practical issues, which first must be clarified before we can give sure advice and guidance on all the implications brought about by the Court Order (the road is thus still long and hard).

In the end, the verdict is in every firearm owner’s favour (just like the 2009 court order was re the validity of green licences).  Well done SA Hunters (again !).

Please be patient as to the what, when, and how, we shall advise.

Regards
Herman Els
Article from NSA Newsletter