JOHANNESBURG — Gun ownership is coming under the spotlight in South Africa again after an interesting court ruling this week. Pretoria’s Gauteng High Court this week declared two sections of the Firearms Control Act unconstitutional: aspects that deal with procedures when surrendering a firearm amid its licence having already lapsed. The court lashed out at the ANC-led government on its “chaotic and dysfunctional” system of licensing guns. The court further slammed a lack of clarity on the matter. The ruling comes as government, over the years, has become stricter on gun control. But as Gideon Joubert points out in this piece: Is the ANC even living up to its own created laws and regulation? He talks about an alleged guns cache at Luthuli House – weapons that may have had their licences lapsed years ago already. It’s an interesting take on this latest debate around gun control. – Gareth van Zyl
By Gideon Joubert*
The ANC is armed.
I am not, contrary to popular belief, alluding to undeclared arms caches from the Struggle Era or equivalent sources of guns and ammunition. Quite the opposite, in fact.
The African National Congress owns weapons legally licensed to itself. These licences were granted to the ANC before 1994 as a concession by the then National Party government. This was done in order to ease the ANC’s fears that the government possessed the monopoly on the use of firearms, and that the ANC would not be capable of defending itself from political violence perpetrated upon it.
The firearms are stored in Luthuli House, and the party can sign them out to any ANC member as deemed necessary via an internal paperwork process.
As far as I am aware, the ANC is the only political party in South Africa to find itself in the privileged position to own licensed weapons.
There are a number of serious questions that must be asked regarding this issue. Firstly, since these weapons were licensed under the old Arms and Ammunition Act 75 of 1969, did the ANC bother to apply for new licences governed by the FCA of 2000 in 2004? Secondly, if the answer to the previous question is affirmative, have any of these licences subsequently been renewed? Thirdly, how many firearms and of what type do the ANC currently possess? Lastly, what is the current status of these firearms with regards to keeping track of them and who has possession of them?
We know that the ANC made use of these weapons during the Shell House massacre in 1994 when the party’s security opened fire on IFP marchers, killing 19 and wounding scores of others. The former minister for safety and security, Sydney Mufamadi, clarified the status of the weapons when he “told Parliament that the last batch of weapons from Shell House had been handed to the police that month. It nevertheless remained unclear whether relevant weapons were still outstanding-for in December when 1996 Mr Mufamadi allegedly told the newspaper Rapport that 99 firearms had yet to be delivered to the police.” This is the last that was heard regarding the matter, and it is concerning that no further information has been forthcoming.
The fact that the Apartheid government armed the ANC before the 1994 general election may be upsetting to revisionists, but the irony of the matter cuts even deeper than just that. The ANC felt the need to arm itself for protection, yet as soon as it gained power it continued the trend of the National Party government in pursuing gun control against the population. South Africans were saddled with the Firearms Control Act of 2000 in order to pursue an agenda of civilian disarmament, and even now government officials continue talk of tightening restrictions.
It is clear that the ANC are absolutely okay with owning the monopoly on the use of guns, like the National Party government before it, and that it may use these guns to protect itself from harm, but ordinary citizens are prevented from having the same privileges thanks to unworkable firearm legislation and the costs associated with it. Yesterday’s court victory for South African gun owners by having section of the FCA declared unconstitutional proves what a travesty the law is, and that is but merely a solitary example.
It appears that the old adage that gun control is not about guns, but only about control rings truer than ever.
As cliché as it is to quote Eric Blair when speaking about the ANC, there are few sayings more apt under the circumstances: all animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.
- Gideon Joubert is an airline pilot working for a South African low-cost carrier, and is currently completing a BCom Economics degree through UNISA. Joubert is a dedicated participant in International Practical Shooting Confederation sport shooting through SAPSA, and a member of the Gun Owners of South Africa Executive Committee.