Minister Mthethwa urges firearms task team to continue working smarter
29 Jun 2011
The Minister of Police, Nathi Mthethwa today commended and encouraged the Task Team responsible for implementing the turnaround strategy of the firearms applications, to remain focused on the task at hand; and not be distracted by those who sought to distract them.
The Minister’s remarks followed a progress review meeting held with the team in Pretoria this morning; wherein positive progress was noted. The main objective of this strategy is to ensure that all applications for firearm licences, competency certificates and renewals are finalised by end of August this year.
It was reported that when the Minister announced the backlog on 2 November 2010, the backlog was 1 387 487, and after an audit in February this year it stood at 1 080 696. The number of applications finalised as on 26 June 2011 are 959 247 and there are 121 449 still outstanding. To date 60% of the total outstanding is already at the Central Firearms Registry (CFR).
“When we announced and placed before this team the challenges last year, we were under no illusion of the tasks ahead, but had confidence in them. We acknowledged that there were challenges but from where I am sitting currently, I am satisfied with progress,” commended the Minister.
According to the South African Police Service (SAPS) Chief Operating Officer, Lieutenant General Bonang Mgwenya after the finalisation of the current backlog, through the systems that are now in place, there will be momentum and sustainability of the process. She added that they also took a decision that moving forward, the issue of firearm applications and processing will now form part of all SAPS management’s key performance areas. “We need accountability and responsibility if we are to make progress in this area, particularly from the top,” she added.
The Minister welcomed this undertaking as part of the way forward. “The KPAs enforcement on management will go a long way in changing things because unfortunately in the past, there had been a deliberate neglect including a direct violation of the law. Our plan here is now multi-faceted and I am sensing more urgency and willingness to work smarter,” state the Minister.
Both the task team and the Minister recognised that because of the pressures of ensuring backlogs are processed by the set-deadline, there may be a few technical cases wherein applications have been declined. The Minister has accordingly tasked the team to set up a process to deal with such cases. He further emphasised the issue of constant communication particularly with all applicants. “We are pleased to learn that since March this year, systems such as SMS communication are now in place. Moreover those who apply need to be informed on progress but equally told upfront if they do not meet the requirements to obtain firearms.”
The Minister further announced that beginning August this year, there will be a national outreach programme in all provinces and police stations aimed at not only educating the public about firearm application process, but also to get first-hand feedback on some of the challenges. “Internally we shall ensure that we implement tailor-made systems that will help us deal with this challenge and avoid future backlogs. But putting systems in place without understanding the frustrations of the applicants will not assist. That is why through these roadshows, we shall be interacting with society, specifically to understand some of their frustrations around this process.”
The Minister also lashed out at some in society who are continuously spreading misleading information about the whole firearm licence process. For reasons best known to them, they have been embarking on parallel processes aimed at discrediting this process.
The recent example is a story published in Beeld (24 June 2011) newspaper, in which it was reported that thousands of applications lay unattended at the CFR. In fact, these were boxes of finalised applications awaiting collection to an Archive Centre. Despite the ministry’s on-going communication and clarification on this, the sensational reporting created an opposite and contrary impression of negligence.
Minister Mthethwa urged the team to remain focused on the task at hand and not be side-tracked by such malicious reporting. “We have not arrived yet, there is still some distance to be covered. What gives me hope is that there is a sense of focus and purpose from this team that is dealing with decades-long challenges. Continue to work with vigour and other things will fall by the wayside,” concluded the Minister.
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Issued by: South African Police Service
29 Jun 2011
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