Members of the public who have applied for firearm licences will have to wait 30 days longer, with Covid-19 one of the reasons causing delays at the SAPS Central Firearm Registry, the police said on Monday.
The police said the pandemic had caused unexpected delays to the firearm-licensing applications process.
National police spokesperson Brigadier Vishnu Naidoo said the police, like other government departments, had been severely hampered by the pandemic and the inherent Covid-19 lockdown restrictions.
“It’s common knowledge this virus has been the cause for employees to frequently self-isolate after having tested positive or come in contact with persons who tested positive for the virus, and the SAPS had not been immune to this.
“In compliance with the National Disaster Management Regulations as well as other safety related protocols, SAPS members are operating at reduced capacity in order to mitigate the spread of the virus.
“In the event a positive case is detected, buildings are also evacuated for purposes of decontamination adding to the delays,” explained Naidoo.
He said police minister Bheki Cele had been granted approval by Parliament last year to have another firearm amnesty period between August 2020 and January 31, 2021.
“Applications for licences in respect of surrendered firearms during the amnesty period compounded the situation after the total number of firearm licence applications increased by more than 80% for the duration of amnesty.
“Applications for licences in respect of surrendered firearms require an entirely different process to that of a normal renewal of licences, which inevitably prolongs the turn-around time for their finalisation.
“While SAPS has put measures in place to mitigate the above-mentioned situation, the organisation has an obligation to ensure that strict protocols with regards to the virus, is complied with. One of which being the balancing of finalising applications speedily with the health and safety of members of the SAPS,” said Naidoo.
He said due to the delays, the SAPS was currently unable to meet its normal 90 working days for firearm licence applications.
“After taking all factors into consideration as well as to allow for proper administration of firearm licence applications, the period for the finalisation of these applications has been extended from 90 working days to 120 working days.
“Firearm licence applicants are therefore requested to please exercise patience and allow SAPS to do due diligence in administering these applications. An assurance is given that everything possible is being done to process these applications within the new 120 working days turn-around time,” he said.