Police Minister Outlines Steps to Improve Central Firearms Registry

Ministry of Police

The police minister, Nathi Mthethwa, has outlined remedial steps to be taken to turn around the central firearms registry (CFR) during a speech to the national press club in Pretoria.

The minister highlighted the importance of the CFR in the fight against crime in South Africa.

The CFR was established by the Firearms Control Act that came into force in 2004.

The minister acknowledged that significant problems still remain with the implementation and administration of the act.

Illegal firearms continue to contribute towards the high rate of robberies, rape, hijackings and murder.  Research has shown that a reduction in the number of illegal firearms can have a positive effect on crime-fighting initiatives.

A task team led by the civilian secretariat of police was set up to investigate all the problems associated with the implementation of the act. This followed a growing number of complaints from across society earlier this year on the malfunctioning of the CFR. 

The team was tasked to assess the current situation and develop a set of recommendations on how the problems could be addressed.

According to the minister, the team had completed its work and recently presented a report on its findings to the minister.

The minister described the CFR as currently acting as a “bottleneck in our crime-fighting initiatives”.

Key challenges include:

• Backlog in the processing of licences
• Corruption and irregular issuing of licences
• Integrity of the database system
• Court cases lodged against the CFR
• Management and organisational design of the CFR
• Poor communication within the CFR
• Insufficient use of IT systems

The remedial steps to address the challenges include:

• Setting up of intervention team to address current backlogs
• Changes to management personnel
• Strong emphasis on better communications
• Redesign of IT and operational systems
• More hands-on in terms of legal cases
• Investigate corruption and bribery

In terms of the intervention team, it consists of South African Police Service representatives from the national commissioner’s office and each province as well as business representatives. The team will interact with turnaround teams in other departments to ascertain best practice.

The minister wants all backlogs to be dealt with within nine months.

Sabinet Cape Town Office