Time to take firearm license applications online – Andrew Whitfield

DA MP says files at the CFR are piled up in corridors on every floor due to a lack of space

Time to take firearm license applications online

16 May 2021

The Central Firearms Registry (CFR) needs to move into the twenty first century with urgency and take the entire firearms application process online.

During an oversight visit by Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Police to the CFR this weekend it became clear that the CFR is dysfunctional and cannot fulfil its mandate as set out in the Firearms Control Act of 2000.

Files piled up in corridors on every floor due to a lack of space, the poor use of IT systems, staff shortages and a building which has been declared unsafe are all contributing factors to the chaos we saw at the CFR. Staff morale is at an all time low under these conditions resulting in rock bottom levels of productivity.

During the oversight I challenged the SAPS to take the entire process online from application to approval. This would remove unnecessary delays and ensure a fully digitised system which applicants could access to monitor the progress of their application.

It was revealed by SAPS that amnesty applications are placed on top of one another on the floor as they arrive. This results in amnesty applications submitted at the beginning of an amnesty sitting at the bottom of thousands of pieces of paper. Therefore, if you were one of the first amnesty applicants your application  is likely to be one of the last to be processed.

In February 2021, SAPS presented to the Portfolio Committee that only 4%, or 2 059, of the 50 962 applications received during the 2019/20 amnesty had been finalised. For applications received during the 2020/21 amnesty just 0.92%, or 280, of the 30 356 had been finalised.

Thousands of South Africans waiting for their firearm licences are left vulnerable by the failures of the CFR. This is unacceptable.

The DA will now write to the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Police to request the CFR to present its turnaround plan to Parliament as a matter of urgency.

Issued by Andrew Whitfield, DA Shadow Minister of Police, 16 May 2021